9 ‘Ex-gay’ Leaders Call for Ban on Reversion Therapy

Wow. This is absolutely huge. Nine former leaders of the “ex-gay” movement have signed a letter supporting a ban on gay reversion therapy, the twisted idea that one can magically become straight by praying hard enough. Here’s the text of the letter:

Conversion therapy, also known as “reparative therapy”, “ex-gay therapy,” or “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE), professes to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people to change or overcome their sexual orientation or gender identity. The majority of those who practice this “therapy” often do so with little or no formal psychological training, operating instead from a strict religious perspective, believing homosexuality to be a “sin.”

At one time, we were not only deeply involved in these “ex-gay” programs, we were the founders, the leaders, and the promoters. Together we represent more than half a century of experience, so few people are more knowledgeable about the ineffectiveness and harm of conversion therapy. We know first-hand the terrible emotional and spiritual damage it can cause, especially for LGBT youth.

We once believed that there was something morally wrong and psychologically “broken” about being LGBT. We know better now. We once believed that sexual orientation or gender identity were somehow chosen or could be changed. We know better now. We once thought it was impossible to embrace our sexual orientation or sexual identity as an intrinsic, healthy part of who we are and who we were created to be. We know better now.

Looking back, we were just believing (and sometimes teaching) what we had been taught— that our identity needed mending. We grew up being told that being LGBT was disordered, sick, mentally ill, sinful, and displeasing to God. We grew up being told that loving, same-sex relationships were shallow, lust-driven, deceived, disordered, and impossible.

We grew up with the repetitive message that LGBT people were not enough — not straight enough, not Christian enough, not manly or womanly enough, not faithful enough, not praying enough. Never, ever enough. “Toxic” probably sums it up best. That message is poison to the soul. Especially a child’s soul.

It can take a lifetime to get rid of that old programming and replace it with healthy, non-toxic views of yourself. Recovery from conversion therapy is difficult at best. Some remain forever scarred, emotionally and spiritually. Conversion therapy reinforces internalized homophobia, anxiety, guilt and depression. It leads to self-loathing and emotional and psychological harm when change doesn’t happen. Regrettably, too many will choose suicide as a result of their sense of failure.

In light of this, we now stand united in our conviction that conversion therapy is not “therapy,” but is instead both ineffective and harmful. We align ourselves with every major mainstream professional medical and mental health organization in denouncing attempts to change sexual orientation or gender identity. We admonish parents to love and accept your LGBT children as they are. We beseech the church to accept, embrace, and affirm LGBT persons with full equality and inclusion.

As former “ex-gay” leaders, having witnessed the incredible harm done to those who attempted to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, we join together in calling for a ban on conversion therapy. It is our firm belief that it is much more productive to support, counsel, and mentor LGBT individuals to embrace who they are in order to live happy, well- adjusted lives. We fully support the aim of #BornPerfect to bring an end to conversion therapy.

Brad Allen

Lay Leader Volunteer (2005–2007)

Church Network Coordinator (2007)

Exodus International Headquarters

Darlene Bogle

Founder, Director, Counselor (1985–1992)

Paraklete Ministries

Michael Bussee

EXIT (1974–1979)

Co-founder (1976–1979)

Exodus International

Catherine Chapman

Project Coordinator (2000–2003)

Women’s Ministry Director (2005–2007)

Portland Fellowship

Jeremy Marks

Founder (1988–2000)

Courage UK

Exodus Europe (1988–1989)

Bill Prickett

Founder, Executive Director (1986–1988)

Coming Back

Tim Rymel

Outreach Director (1991–1996)

Love in Action

Yvette Cantu Schneider

Executive Director (2001–2005)

Living in Victory Ministry

Director of Women’s Ministry (2008–2011)

Exodus International

John J Smid

Executive Director (1987–2008)

Love in Action

Exodus International Board of Directors (1990–1995; 2002–2008)

Incredible. And very welcome.

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  • blf

    Which will be correctly reportedf on full nitwits in, 3… 4… 5…

    (don’t hold your breath) 9… 10… … 20billion and counting…

  • Pierce R. Butler

    … we were the founders, the leaders, and the promoters. Together we represent more than half a century of experience…

    With an average of 6 years of experience among the “founders”, this tradition has some very shallow roots.

    Didn’t Freud have a go at trying to talk at least one patient out of faggosexualtiy?

  • lordshipmayhem

    The only “reparative therapy” that needs to be done is to that part of society that thinks there’s something sinful about being LGBT, and believes that people who are LGBT are not born that way.

    First, they need to realize that the more important thing about being LGBT is that first and foremost an LGTB person is a person, and they need to actually get to know some LGTB people as people. Then they’ll clue in that just as we straight people didn’t choose to be straight, so people who are LGBT didn’t choose to be LGBT. And then they’ll be able to accept same-sex marriage, and adoption by gays, of their own kids coming out as gay, and that discriminating against gays is incredibly nonsensical.

    Until the attitude from ignorance gets repaired, the stupidity will continue to simmer.

  • dingojack

    lordshipmayhem – why are transgender and bisexual people always lesser than lesbian and gay people? Methinks you need a more comprehensive randomisation algorithm. Or alternatively, you could just pick a damn term and stick with it.

    It’s a lot less ‘PC cool’ I grant you, but I think we’re adult enough to know what is meant — even without the painfully self-conscious ‘inclusiveness’.

    Apart from that very minor niggle, spot-on.


  • If I understand correctly, they want a ban on reversion therapy covering both licensed and unlicensed “therapists.” I don’t see an obvious problem with a ban that applies to licensed professions because such a ban would fall under regulation of practice. It’s clear that the state is permitted to do that.

    Bans applied to non-licensed therapists or counselors could be seen as regulation of speech. If you go there, you would have to argue that any kind of advice offered by lay people could be banned or regulated.

    What the state can do with these untrained individuals is ban the use of certain words in presenting themselves to the public, which is something many states already do. Examples of words that could be banned: therapy, therapist, psychotherapy, counseling, treatment. Some states already require licenses for use of of these words when representing oneself or one’s services. Still, there may be no way to actually stop non-licensed individuals from engaging in reversion practice.

  • California has enacted a ban on “reparative” therapy, signed by Governor Brown and upheld in the courts.

  • Artor

    Dr. X, unlicensed therapy is called “practicing medicine without a license.” It’s illegal no matter what your viewpoint is. Some people might try to re-define it as “counselling,” but there’s less and less patience for that kind of mendacity.

  • Cuttlefish

    Pierce @#2:


    (Freud’s “Letter to an American Mother”)

    Dear Mrs. X

    I gather from your letter that your son is a homosexual. I am most impressed by the fact that you do not mention this term yourself in your information about him. May I question you, why do you avoid it? Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation, it cannot be classified as an illness; we consider it to be a variation of the sexual function produced by certain arrest of sexual development. Many highly respectable individuals of ancient and modern times have been homosexuals, several of the greatest among them (Plato, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, etc.). It is a great injustice to persecute homosexuality as a crime, and cruelty too. If you do not believe me, read the books of Havelock Ellis.

    Continues at link; Freud basically says such change is difficult if not impossible, but that psychoanalysis can help homosexuals and heterosexuals alike be happier with themselves, independently of their sexuality.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Cuttlefish @ # 8 – Thanks!

    That definitely pulls my estimation of poor ol’ Dr. F up a notch.

  • Zeno:

    “California has enacted a ban on “reparative” therapy, signed by Governor Brown and upheld in the courts.”

    Yes, but the California law applies to minors and only regulates licensed professionals. As the Ninth Circuit noted:

    “A licensed mental health provider’s use of SOCE on a patient under 18 years of age is “considered unprofessional conduct,” which will subject that provider to “discipline by the licensing entity for that mental health provider.”

    Their rationale was that some free speech protections apply to doctor-patient relations, but licensed providers are also subject to regulation of their practice.

    The law doesn’t address persons not subject to discipline by a licensing entity if they’re not regulated under such an entity. Read further about what people providing advice services can and cannot do.

    Artor says:

    “unlicensed therapy is called “practicing medicine without a license.” It’s illegal no matter what your viewpoint is.

    Not true. State regulation of “talk” services is tricky business. An unlicensed person can open an office, charge for advice, run groups, seminars whatever aimed at personal change, whether internal or external, all without a professional license. What state boards do is regulate how you can hold yourself or your services out to the public. Regulations vary from state to state, some more restrictive than others. In some places a person with absolutely no training can legally call themselves a therapist. In other states use of the word without a license is banned. Use of words like the words I mentioned are examples of words and service descriptions that can be regulated. As long as the person operating the “service” tip-toes around the regulated words, they can go their merry way, doing whatever. A state could craft a law that specifically says that no person shall charge for services held out as providing change of sexual orientation, but the free speech matter might become more of an issue.

    This is different from physical medicine because the nature of medical practice is hands on, things done to the body, talk therapies are just talk and talk has a great deal of protection.

    From the Ninth Circuit Ruling acknowledges a continuum of speech and practice and decided that since the law applies only to licensed practitioners, California has the authority to regulate it.

    Senate Bill 1172 merely prohibits licensed mental health providers from engaging in SOCE with minors. It is the limited reach of SB 1172 that distinguishes the present cases from Conant, in which the government’s policy prohibited speech wholly apart from the actual provision of treatment. Under its police power, California has authority to prohibit licensed mental health providers from administering therapies that the legislature has deemed harmful and, under Giboney, 336 U.S. at 502, the fact that speech may be used to carry out those therapies does not turn the prohibitions of conduct into prohibitions of speech.

  • smrnda

    On the law – agreed that it regulates licensed therapists, unlicensed ‘therapists’ are restricted based on laws about deception on the nature of their practice. This is why there exists an alternative universe of “Christian counselors” with degrees from Christian degree mils. Regrettably, some people don’t actually know the difference, and some only find out when they find out who and who isn’t covered by a health plan.

  • @Pierce R. Butler:

    That definitely pulls my estimation of poor ol’ Dr. F up a notch.”

    Every time someone here refers to projection, they owe a debt to Freud. The construct requires the acceptance of unconscious processes that manage overwhelming thoughts and feelings by denying them and believing magically that the thoughts exist elsewhere, in someone else. A lot there, if you think about it.