Ban on Conversion Therapy for Minors Upheld in California

In an opinion handed down today, the 9th Circuit Court upheld California’s ban on conversion therapy for minors.

The staff summary of the opinion begins:

Reversing an order granting preliminary injunctive relief in Welch v. Brown, 13-15023, and affirming the denial of preliminary injunctive relief in Pickup v. Brown, 12-17681, the panel held that California Senate Bill 1172, which bans state-licensed mental health providers from engaging in “sexual orientation change efforts” with patients under 18 years of age, does not violate the free speech rights of practitioners or minor patients, is neither vague nor overbroad, and does not violate parents’ fundamental rights.

Here is the full text of the decision.

Note: I edited this post to reflect the fact that the quote above is from the staff summary of the opinion and not the actual opinion. The meaning is the same.

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  • David Cary Hart

    Warren:

    You have a slight factual error. The text that you are quoting is from the staff summary – NOT the opinion.

  • Zoe Brain

    Faith Healers will still be able to peddle their superstitions. What it means though is that those who have credentials will no longer be able to trade on that when selling Snake Oil.

  • stephen

    Hooray.

  • Ann

    Does the bill give an definition to what “sexual orientation change efforts” mean?

  • Mary

    Good question Anne.

  • david blakeslee

    Mary: this is from the bill,

    865.

    For the purposes of this article, the following terms ? shall have the following meanings:

    (a) “Mental health provider” means a physician and surgeon specializing in the practice of psychiatry, a psychologist, a psychological assistant, intern, or trainee, a licensed marriage and family therapist, a registered marriage and family therapist, intern, or trainee, a licensed educational psychologist, a credentialed school psychologist, a licensed clinical social worker, an associate clinical social worker, a licensed professional clinical counselor, a registered clinical counselor, intern, or trainee, or any other person designated as a mental health professional under California law or regulation.

    (b) (1) “Sexual orientation change efforts” means any practices by mental health providers that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.

    (2) “Sexual orientation change efforts” does not include psychotherapies that: (A) provide acceptance, support, and understanding of clients or the facilitation of clients’ coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices; and (B) do not seek to change sexual orientation.

    “Seek to Change” orientation appears to be the focus that is forbidden for minors. There will be grey areas as minors express a wish to decrease the intensity of their attractions (to better control behavior) while they are still discovering what their attraction entail and what their values are and what their community will support or challenge.

    The therapists agenda of “change” in “feelings” is what is viewed as coercive, misleading and unethical.

  • Teresa

    So, does this Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, located in California, will NOT be able to take those under 18 years of age with same sex attractions and use SOCE therapy?

    And, just how and by whom will this be monitored?

  • ken

    “does this Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, located in California, will NOT be able to take those under 18 years of age with same sex attractions and use SOCE therapy? ”

    Yes it does.

    “And, just how and by whom will this be monitored?”

    What do you mean “monitored”? If you mean enforced, it would be by the appropriate state licensing/regulatory agency. I.e. if someone reports that a therapist is attempting SOCE therapy on a minor and the appropriate agency determines it is true, the therapist could lose his/her license (or face lesser sanctions by the agency).

  • Teresa

    A large quote from NARTH’s Response from August 29, 2013:

    Politicians and non-elected judges have seen fit to approve of such encroachments on personal and professional freedoms in spite of the fact that the American Psychological Association admits the exact causes of same-sex attractions are not known, virtually no research exists directly addressing the modification of same-sex behaviors and attractions with minors, and the prevalence of harm from such change efforts is unknown and has therefore not been established as being any greater than the rates of harm documented for psychotherapy in general. Furthermore, much research has documented that fluidity in sexual attractions and identity often occurs naturally and is particularly pronounced in adolescence and early adulthood, which suggests the viability of therapeutic change efforts for some youth.

    NARTH, in my opinion, is not the total bad boy some of us would like to believe, which makes me an outlier here. Be that as it may, NARTH’s essential problem is multifaceted. First, it never appeared from their writings that they had a ‘heart’ for persons with same sex attractions. Their seeming unwillingness to accept persons where they found them, and then proceed from there. (Which, I know, begs the question, since all they were about was un-gaying people). Second, its use of a rather small (tiny really) client population (said population unhappy) and extrapolating ‘some’ possible reasonable outcomes as “science”. Finally, launching itself in the political arena where it was outmanned, outgunned, and outmaneuvered.

    The quote I’ve chosen shows NARTH’s irrationality. They were all about showing us research, and now they state “virtually no research exists”; then they talk about “much research has documented”. They talk about “fluidity in sexual attractions and identity often occurs” and then in the same sentence use the words “some youth”.

    However, schizophrenic NARTH is/was, it was not all wrong. It was the source of its own undoing, but its basic premise was not all wrong. And, that’s where all this becomes really sad, at least for those of us who living with same sex attractions live in an alternate universe than the one we’re presently inhabiting.

  • Teresa

    From 865 (b)( 1)

    … or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.

    And, this is wrong, why?

    See, as hard as this is to believe, there are some of us (who knows how many, because now we have to be in the closet for another reason) who actually see reducing same sex attractions as a good thing. And, what’s more, we actually believe the quaint notion that parents might have some say in helping their children grow into the best persons they can be … which may include the real possibility of having to live a celibate life; a celibate life built on a foundation of true joy.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    The quote I’ve chosen shows NARTH’s irrationality.

    I read it as admitting they can’t prove their “un-gaying” works, but that it is possible. There is no peer-reviewed research saying it works, but neither is there any that says it can never work.

    As long as there’s a possibility it works or may someday work–even for one person!–then claiming “science” to ban “un-gaying” is a misuse of the word. In the medical world, they play longshots all the time.

    FTR, I don’t think it can work, but using the strong arm of politics on the issue at this point is unjustified. Perhaps “un-gaying” can work but they just haven’t figured out the right way to do it yet. Perhaps it can work for females but not males. We don’t know, and laws like this will make sure we never know.

    That’s anti-science.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

      Tom – Can you give some examples of medical folks playing long shots?

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Warren# ~ Aug 31, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Tom – Can you give some examples of medical folks playing long shots?

    Experimental drugs. Trying to keep less-than-22-week old babies/fetuses alive. [Successful!*]

    If “un-gaying” therapy works or can be found out how to work for even one person, these laws will make sure that never happens. That’s anti-science.

    And the bit about working for females [although perhaps not for males] is something I’ve picked up from your own commenters as well as writers such as Malinda Selmys. There are dozens of accounts to be found on the internet.

    http://tinyurl.com/n4vqdpe

    As long as there is first-person anecdotal evidence, “science” cannot claim SSA attraction therapy can never work and therefore may be justly outlawed. Neither can it be said that Same Sex Attraction-therapy techniques can never be perfected, although that’s exactly where laws banning them will leave us.

    This is a misuse of science and a shorting of the scientific method. Were there not such a partisan political angle to gay issues–say if this were about ACD or bulimia–these laws would never have been passed. This is a political football, not science. We know precious little about SSA atall [the research is extremely spotty**] and here we are writing the rules about it in stone.

    ____________

    *http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1021034/The-tiniest-survivor-How-miracle-baby-born-weeks-legal-abortion-limit-clung-life-odds.html

    **http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/01/same-sex-science

  • Boo

    Tom- if they have no evidence that it works, and they don’t, then they have no business being within 100 feet of a child.

  • ken

    Teresa# ~ Aug 31, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    “From 865 (b)( 1)

    … or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.

    And, this is wrong, why?”

    It isn’t wrong. And it is perfectly legal for a therapist at assist a patient in trying to achieve these goals. Unless it is part of a therapy to change sexual orientation for minors .

  • ken

    Tom Van Dyke# ~ Aug 31, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    “There is no peer-reviewed research saying it works, but neither is there any that says it can never work.”

    There is no peer review science that says eating a pound of peanuts a day will never cure cancer, that doesn’t mean it oncologists should be prescribing that cancer patients eat a pound of peanuts a day.

    Most, if not all, of these “therapies” to change orientation are based on incorrect (and often negative) assumptions about homosexuality. To practice such unproven and potentially harmful “therapies” on children is unethical.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Most, if not all, of these “therapies” to change orientation are based on incorrect (and often negative) assumptions about homosexuality. To practice such unproven and potentially harmful “therapies” on children is unethical.

    Negative and “incorrect” are not synonymous. I’m not going to go into whether there are negatives to homosexuality, only to say that one is–or should be–free to think there are, and further believe that [same] sex attraction can be positively dealt with through therapy.

    The “pound of peanuts to cure cancer” analogy simply doesn’t hold, it’s too literal and too easily disproved. Psychological therapy is far less measurable than pill X vs. placebos, etc.

    And hey, I’m not going to just say white because you say black. I’ll stipulate for the sake of argument that 90+% of these guys don’t know what they’re doing. But that doesn’t justify the strong arm of the law banning ALL such therapy forever*. It’s motivated by politics, not science, and unscientifically asserts that Same Sex Attraction cannot be affected with psychological therapy.

    Nobody knows whether that’s true or not. We know so little. And any honest scientist will admit that as little as we know about what makes gays tick, we know almost less than zero about lesbianism. Although the law and politics make one size fit all, homosexual feelings among girls is a dimension that the law completely bulldozes over. That’s brutality, not compassion.

    _____________

    *For instance, electro-shock therapy was once common, then was discarded as ineffective and inhumane, but is now making a comeback.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/19/news/la-heb-electroshock-therapy-depression-20120319

    Further, there are many people who claim therapy for Same Sex Attraction has worked. As long as this anecdotal evidence exists, the government has no business politicizing it. If this were a non-political issue like OCD or bulimia, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

  • Zoe Brain

    virtually no research exists directly addressing the modification of same-sex behaviors and attractions with minors

    But surely such research must be extensive. After all, the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality has been in existence for how long? They must have a 20 year history of follow-ups to extensively document the effects of various therapies. They must have hundreds of papers detailing their results in medical journals by now. It is after all a multi-disciplinary professional and scientific organization.

    So where’s the science? The papers detailing results and methodologies used to collect them? They must exist.

  • Zoe Brain

    virtually no research exists directly addressing the modification of same-sex behaviors and attractions with minors

    But surely such research must be extensive. After all, the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality has been in existence for how long? They must have a 20 year history of follow-ups to extensively document the effects of various therapies. They must have hundreds of papers detailing their results in medical journals by now. It is after all a multi-disciplinary professional and scientific organization.

    So where’s the science? The papers detailing results and methodologies used to collect them? They must exist.

  • ken

    Tom Van Dyke# ~ Aug 31, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    “Negative and “incorrect” are not synonymous.”

    No they aren’t synomymous but they are both relevant, which is why I listed both terms in describing the assumptions that go into these therapies.

    You completely missed the point (probably deliberately) of the peanut analogy. It was to highlight how medical treatment is NOT done. Treatment is based on sound theories about the condition, reasonable assumptions about how it could be effected and consideration of any side effects NOT (as you suggested) because no one has ever proved the treatment could never work.

    “But that doesn’t justify the strong arm of the law banning ALL such therapy forever.”

    And no one has done that. I suggest you read what the law actually says a bit more carefully.

    ” there are many people who claim therapy for Same Sex Attraction has worked. ”

    Worked how? What are they claiming the therapy actually helped them to achieve?

    Are you saying it worked to change their orientation from gay to straight? Because I believe you’ll find there are just as many (if not far more) people who claimed their orientation changed, but later claimed they were wrong and it really didn’t change.

  • ken

    Tom Van Dyke# ~ Aug 31, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    “Negative and “incorrect” are not synonymous.”

    No they aren’t synomymous but they are both relevant, which is why I listed both terms in describing the assumptions that go into these therapies.

    You completely missed the point (probably deliberately) of the peanut analogy. It was to highlight how medical treatment is NOT done. Treatment is based on sound theories about the condition, reasonable assumptions about how it could be effected and consideration of any side effects NOT (as you suggested) because no one has ever proved the treatment could never work.

    “But that doesn’t justify the strong arm of the law banning ALL such therapy forever.”

    And no one has done that. I suggest you read what the law actually says a bit more carefully.

    ” there are many people who claim therapy for Same Sex Attraction has worked. ”

    Worked how? What are they claiming the therapy actually helped them to achieve?

    Are you saying it worked to change their orientation from gay to straight? Because I believe you’ll find there are just as many (if not far more) people who claimed their orientation changed, but later claimed they were wrong and it really didn’t change.

  • Boo

    “But that doesn’t justify the strong arm of the law banning ALL such therapy forever”

    First of all, the law doesn’t do that. Second of all, these guys have had literally decades to come up with some evidence that what they’re doing actually works, and they don’t have any. Almost all ex-gays will eventually admit they’re still attracted to the same sex, and the ones who won’t included people like John Paulk and Michael Johnston. They could brain scan people to determine their arousal patterns, but they don’t. They have no confidence their claims can stand up to any real scrutiny. Coming back to the first point, if a competent adult wants to subject themselves to something like that, it’s ultimately their choice (although the therapist has an ethical responsibility to inform the adult client of the complete lack of evidence for changing orientation). But again, they have no business whatsoever inflicting this unproven potentially harmful “therapy” on children, which is what the law actually bans.

  • Teresa

    Zoe said:

    But surely such research must be extensive. After all, the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality has been in existence for how long? They must have a 20 year history of follow-ups to extensively document the effects of various therapies. They must have hundreds of papers detailing their results in medical journals by now. It is after all a multi-disciplinary professional and scientific organization.

    Yes, Zoe, this is where NARTH failed miserably. I believe its intentions were good, but the results belied their hypothesis, or so it seems. They have within their reach access to several hundred (or more) therapists who’ve had some clients seeking ‘change’. Over 20 years, this must amount to several thousand clients. Someone can do the Research, if that’s what they were truly about.

    We do know some things right now. First, Dr. Lisa Diamond’s study with female homosexuals showed quite clearly that for ‘some’ women sexual fluidity happened. ‘Some’ experienced heterosexual feelings even when they didn’t want to. None of the un-gaying was a direct result of SOCE.

    We know enough right now to assert that female sexuality is quite different in many respects than male sexuality: str8 and gay. Not rocket science for this knowledge.

    We, also, know that persons with same sex attractions can have good traditional marriages if the start of the relationship is open and honest. It is difficult, no doubt; and, probably out-of-reach for many. However, it shouldn’t go unmentioned as a life choice for homosexuals.

    Also, we have little knowledge on how many of us persons with same sex attractions are living single, celibate lives (therapy or not) presently. It’s a hidden, closeted world at the moment; for the most part. We’re outliers in many places, because the left sees us as betraying some Holy Grail of gaydom; and, the right sees us as liars and misfits.

    And, here’s the bottom line with this. With the removal of homosexuality from the DSM, in the main accomplished by the politicization of the issue, every attempt to intervene in some way to diminish same sex attractions is seen as unhealthy. What was once culturally ‘ab-normal’ forever became ‘normal’ … and the ‘normal’ became ‘ab-normal’.

    We know that adolescence is a time of a great hormonal changes, flux, and discomfort. A highly sexualized culture only intensifies this period of growth. To deny these persons access to therapies that might assist them in achieving their potentials is scandalous.

    Let’s be very clear about this: no parent wants a child of theirs to have same sex attractions. When that mother is carrying a child in her womb, she’s not praying everyday for that child to be gay. No expectant father is praying for a gay child. As liberal, as sexually edgy as this culture has become, the ‘normal’ is still the desired. To deny someone access to opportunities for ‘change’ (health) in whatever shape that takes goes against every compassionate humanity we have left.

  • Teresa

    BTW, Tom, anecdotal evidence is NOT science. The proof is in the pudding on the issue of un-gaying. This is where Exodus got stung. This is where most of the ‘therapy’ world got stung. The outcomes, after decades, showed for MOST, un-gaying simply was elusive. People still had same sex attractions.

    That I think is what we need to own up to; and, remediate this whole business of un-gaying. Anecdotal evidence shows that most ‘change’ happened in the area of choosing celibacy, and living with ebb-and-flow of same sex attractions. However, ‘some’ persons can traditionally marry and have good families, while living with the ebb-and-flow of same sex attractions. Alan Chambers is a good example.

    This is where the Protestant faith beliefs went awry, in my opinion. Exodus owned the un-gaying platform, and it was all about getting married. The Catholic Church came late to the game in the un-gaying business. Although they dabbled with, sometimes more than dabbled with the NARTH group; they brought to the table the very beautiful option of celibacy, and service to others as a life choice. The Catholic Church has always prized celibacy and chastity. This was/is the game-changer in large part for persons with same sex attractions.

    Science should and must continue to explore the whole area of sexuality, which could help immeasurably when the nuts and bolts are figured out. Until then, and even then, a free society should never limit one’s healthy choices.

  • Teresa

    BTW, Tom, anecdotal evidence is NOT science. The proof is in the pudding on the issue of un-gaying. This is where Exodus got stung. This is where most of the ‘therapy’ world got stung. The outcomes, after decades, showed for MOST, un-gaying simply was elusive. People still had same sex attractions.

    That I think is what we need to own up to; and, remediate this whole business of un-gaying. Anecdotal evidence shows that most ‘change’ happened in the area of choosing celibacy, and living with ebb-and-flow of same sex attractions. However, ‘some’ persons can traditionally marry and have good families, while living with the ebb-and-flow of same sex attractions. Alan Chambers is a good example.

    This is where the Protestant faith beliefs went awry, in my opinion. Exodus owned the un-gaying platform, and it was all about getting married. The Catholic Church came late to the game in the un-gaying business. Although they dabbled with, sometimes more than dabbled with the NARTH group; they brought to the table the very beautiful option of celibacy, and service to others as a life choice. The Catholic Church has always prized celibacy and chastity. This was/is the game-changer in large part for persons with same sex attractions.

    Science should and must continue to explore the whole area of sexuality, which could help immeasurably when the nuts and bolts are figured out. Until then, and even then, a free society should never limit one’s healthy choices.

  • Boo

    “Let’s be very clear about this: no parent wants a child of theirs to have same sex attractions. When that mother is carrying a child in her womb, she’s not praying everyday for that child to be gay. No expectant father is praying for a gay child. As liberal, as sexually edgy as this culture has become, the ‘normal’ is still the desired.”

    I think you underestimate people’s humanity. I know parents for whom praying for a child not to be gay makes as much sense as praying for a child not to be left handed.

  • Boo

    “Let’s be very clear about this: no parent wants a child of theirs to have same sex attractions. When that mother is carrying a child in her womb, she’s not praying everyday for that child to be gay. No expectant father is praying for a gay child. As liberal, as sexually edgy as this culture has become, the ‘normal’ is still the desired.”

    I think you underestimate people’s humanity. I know parents for whom praying for a child not to be gay makes as much sense as praying for a child not to be left handed.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Boo# ~ Sep 1, 2013 at 10:40 am

    “But that doesn’t justify the strong arm of the law banning ALL such therapy forever”

    But again, they have no business whatsoever inflicting this unproven potentially harmful “therapy” on children, which is what the law actually bans.

    ________

    Teresa# ~ Sep 1, 2013 at 11:44 am

    To deny someone access to opportunities for ‘change’ (health) in whatever shape that takes goes against every compassionate humanity we have left.

    Science should and must continue to explore the whole area of sexuality, which could help immeasurably when the nuts and bolts are figured out. Until then, and even then, a free society should never limit one’s healthy choices.

    ______

    Boo avoids burden of proof and is fine with using the power of the state to back her opinions. For they are all opinions–we know so little about SSA.

    Teresa seems to get this mostly right, although the anecdotal evidence that suggests SSA therapy can work [at least to some level] should not be treated as though it doesn’t exist. Science follows the anecdotes toward evidence, it doesn’t ignore them or make them illegal.

    I say this as someone who doubts homosexual feelings can be therapized into heterosexual ones, only that we cannot yet dismiss the possibility [esp in younger females]. The likely successful route is as Theresa says, towards celibacy and acknowledging, but not acting upon, unwanted SSA feelings.

    But the legislature is looking at this in terms of political advantage, not compassion and understanding for those affected. And that’s as bad as NARTH, the other side of the coin.

  • Ann

    Teresa,

    I am actually on my way to mass :-) in a minute, so I will write more later. Do you watch EWTN? There is a WONDERFUL woman who is a member of the EWTN family and lives in Rome and has programs from there for the channel. Her name is Joan. She is one example of how the church calls some individuals to the single life and celibacy and how completely awesome it can be. Your post was right on target as far as I am concerned.

    Ann

  • ken

    Tom Van Dyke# ~ Sep 1, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    ” For they are all opinions–we know so little about SSA.”

    Actually a great deal is known about sexual orientation (including same-sex attraction) and sexuality in general. And a great deal has been learned in the 40 years since homosexuality was removed as a psychiatric disorder. What there hasn’t been a lot of research on is SOCE.

    “But the legislature is looking at this in terms of political advantage, not compassion and understanding for those affected.”

    “the legislature’ always acts in terms of political advantage. However most of the people who support this law are doing so out compassion and understanding for a vulnerable portion of the population who could be seriously hurt by this “therapy.”

  • Tom Van Dyke

    “the legislature’ always acts in terms of political advantage. However most of the people who support this law are doing so out compassion and understanding for a vulnerable portion of the population who could be seriously hurt by this “therapy.”</i.

    Even if well-intentioned, it's a misuse of political power—misguided compassion, for reasons Teresa gives above.

    In the meantime, I don't know what Dr Throck's position on his [former?] colleague Stanton L. Jones's article

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/01/same-sex-science

    but there are many people at this blog proceeding from false assumptions about what science really knows about Same Sex Attraction [especially, as we see in the comments above, among females].

    Dr. Jones:

    “Today we approach same-sex attraction with views grounded in social and biological scientific perspectives that are only partially supported by empirical findings. Until the early decades of the twentieth century, moral disapproval of “sodomy” guided public policy, but that grounding was displaced by a psychiatric model that viewed homosexuality as a mental illness. Once homosexuality came to be seen not as a sin but as a sickness, it became a simple matter for social science to overturn the opposition to homosexual acts. Alfred Kinsey’s studies of male and female sexuality, published in 1948 and 1953, portrayed homosexual behavior of various kinds as a normal and surprisingly common variant of human sexuality. In 1951, Clellan Ford and Frank Beach published Patterns of Sexual Behavior, their famous study of diverse forms of sexual behavior, including same-sex behavior, across human cultures and many animal species; they suggested a widely shared “basic capacity” for same-sex behavior.

    But the decisive blow to the mental-illness construal of homosexuality came from a single study in 1957. Psychologist Evelyn Hooker published findings that convincingly demonstrated that homosexual persons do not necessarily manifest psychological maladjustment. On the basis of Hooker’s work, and the findings of similar studies, in 1973 the American Psychiatric Association amended its designation of homosexual orientation as a mental illness.

    To avoid misunderstanding the phenomenon of homosexuality, we must grapple with the Achilles heel of research into the homosexual condition: the issue of sample representativeness. To make general characterizations such as “homosexuals are as emotionally healthy as heterosexuals,” scientists must have sampled representative members of the broader group. But representative samples of homosexual persons are difficult to gather, first, because homosexuality is a statistically uncommon phenomenon.

    A recent research synthesis by Gary Gates of the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA Law School dedicated to sexual-orientation law and public policy, suggests that among adults in the United States, Canada, and Europe, 1.8 percent are bisexual men and women, 1.1 percent are gay men, and 0.6 percent are lesbians. This infrequency makes it hard to find participants for research studies, leading researchers to study easy-to-access groups of persons (such as visible participants in advocacy groups) who may not be representative of the broader homosexual population. Add to this the difficulty of defining homosexuality, of establishing boundaries of what constitutes homosexuality (with individuals coming in and out of the closet, and also shifting in their experience of same-sex identity and attraction), and of the shifting perceptions of the social desirability of embracing the identity label of gay or lesbian, and the difficulty of knowing when one is studying a truly representative sample of homosexual persons becomes clear.

    It’s difficult to have a dispassionate discussion at this blog because so many people have a stake in the debate, but unfortunately that also shuts down many attempts at genuine knowledge and understanding. The legislative ban on SSA therapy is just another example of that dynamic, to steamroll over the issue by emotion and with naked political force.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    “the legislature’ always acts in terms of political advantage. However most of the people who support this law are doing so out compassion and understanding for a vulnerable portion of the population who could be seriously hurt by this “therapy.”</i.

    Even if well-intentioned, it's a misuse of political power—misguided compassion, for reasons Teresa gives above.

    In the meantime, I don't know what Dr Throck's position on his [former?] colleague Stanton L. Jones's article

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/01/same-sex-science

    but there are many people at this blog proceeding from false assumptions about what science really knows about Same Sex Attraction [especially, as we see in the comments above, among females].

    Dr. Jones:

    “Today we approach same-sex attraction with views grounded in social and biological scientific perspectives that are only partially supported by empirical findings. Until the early decades of the twentieth century, moral disapproval of “sodomy” guided public policy, but that grounding was displaced by a psychiatric model that viewed homosexuality as a mental illness. Once homosexuality came to be seen not as a sin but as a sickness, it became a simple matter for social science to overturn the opposition to homosexual acts. Alfred Kinsey’s studies of male and female sexuality, published in 1948 and 1953, portrayed homosexual behavior of various kinds as a normal and surprisingly common variant of human sexuality. In 1951, Clellan Ford and Frank Beach published Patterns of Sexual Behavior, their famous study of diverse forms of sexual behavior, including same-sex behavior, across human cultures and many animal species; they suggested a widely shared “basic capacity” for same-sex behavior.

    But the decisive blow to the mental-illness construal of homosexuality came from a single study in 1957. Psychologist Evelyn Hooker published findings that convincingly demonstrated that homosexual persons do not necessarily manifest psychological maladjustment. On the basis of Hooker’s work, and the findings of similar studies, in 1973 the American Psychiatric Association amended its designation of homosexual orientation as a mental illness.

    To avoid misunderstanding the phenomenon of homosexuality, we must grapple with the Achilles heel of research into the homosexual condition: the issue of sample representativeness. To make general characterizations such as “homosexuals are as emotionally healthy as heterosexuals,” scientists must have sampled representative members of the broader group. But representative samples of homosexual persons are difficult to gather, first, because homosexuality is a statistically uncommon phenomenon.

    A recent research synthesis by Gary Gates of the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA Law School dedicated to sexual-orientation law and public policy, suggests that among adults in the United States, Canada, and Europe, 1.8 percent are bisexual men and women, 1.1 percent are gay men, and 0.6 percent are lesbians. This infrequency makes it hard to find participants for research studies, leading researchers to study easy-to-access groups of persons (such as visible participants in advocacy groups) who may not be representative of the broader homosexual population. Add to this the difficulty of defining homosexuality, of establishing boundaries of what constitutes homosexuality (with individuals coming in and out of the closet, and also shifting in their experience of same-sex identity and attraction), and of the shifting perceptions of the social desirability of embracing the identity label of gay or lesbian, and the difficulty of knowing when one is studying a truly representative sample of homosexual persons becomes clear.

    It’s difficult to have a dispassionate discussion at this blog because so many people have a stake in the debate, but unfortunately that also shuts down many attempts at genuine knowledge and understanding. The legislative ban on SSA therapy is just another example of that dynamic, to steamroll over the issue by emotion and with naked political force.

  • Ann

    Actually a great deal is known about sexual orientation (including same-sex attraction) and sexuality in general.

    Ken,

    What definitive knowledge, other than an awareness of a spontaneous attraction to the same gender, more often than not, at the exclusion of an attraction to the opposite sex, is known? I know there are a lot of opinions, studies, etc., however, I am unaware of any true and collective and conclusive knowledge about same gender/sex attraction. I hope someday there will be – for me personally and the countless others who have been affected directly or indirectly and are left with wondering “why”.

  • stephen

    Couple of thoughts: I would like to point out that there is no such thing as ‘same sex attraction’ or, as some put it, SSA. That is a demeaning term designed to trivialize the emotional and sexual lives of men and women who happen to be homosexual in their affectional orientation. Our emotional lives are every bit as meaningful as yours and our relationships as rich. Sex plays about the same part in our lives as yours and it’s about time everyone stopped being obsessed with the sexual activities of gay men. I don’t know why women get a free pass but it seems they do. The lingering aftershock of sodomy laws? I don’t know.

    Most middle-class and upwards British men – I don’t know if this is quite so true now, I went to school a long time ago – were schooled in an entirely homosexual environment. The public schools were places of romance for most and sexual beginnings for quite a few: all exclusively homosexual. The same was true for Oxford and Cambridge. My own first physical and emotional experiences were at school. Recently I met up with my first love when I was working in Paris and he came to visit. After he left school he found his way to girls because his emotional attachment is with women. He feels most complete with women. As I do with men. Does this mean that sexuality is malleable? I don’t think so. I think it means that boys, and girls, need a physical outlet and all of us crave loving companionship. If we can’t get what we want we’ll make do with what we can get.

    It seems to me that the great breakthrough for us came when the straight world finally stopped trying to define us and instead started to listen. We have interesting things to tell you but you must listen.To be told by straight people who we are and what we want is both condescending and impertinent and is apt to fray tempers.

    And one question: if we think that the sexual abuse of children is a bad thing – I assume we think that – why is the emotional abuse of children by so-called therapists any different? I would think that if this welcome ban saves one child from suicide that it’s worth it. The state outlawed laetrile, why shouldn’t it outlaw snake oil? The pity is that most of this nonsense is pushed by groups that claim to be religious in form or another. But if Nicolosi could be put out of business…!

    The struggle that gay people have historically faced is to cope with the shame most of us internalized while growing up. That’s what explains NARTH: was anyone surprised when one of its leading ‘experts’, George Rekers, was revealed as being gay? The situation is better than it was but there’s still a good way to go. I was recently working with a group of exclusively gay men. It happens sometimes in my business. While it’s welcome it’s no different from working with any other group. We’re just as boring as anyone else.

  • stephen

    Couple of thoughts: I would like to point out that there is no such thing as ‘same sex attraction’ or, as some put it, SSA. That is a demeaning term designed to trivialize the emotional and sexual lives of men and women who happen to be homosexual in their affectional orientation. Our emotional lives are every bit as meaningful as yours and our relationships as rich. Sex plays about the same part in our lives as yours and it’s about time everyone stopped being obsessed with the sexual activities of gay men. I don’t know why women get a free pass but it seems they do. The lingering aftershock of sodomy laws? I don’t know.

    Most middle-class and upwards British men – I don’t know if this is quite so true now, I went to school a long time ago – were schooled in an entirely homosexual environment. The public schools were places of romance for most and sexual beginnings for quite a few: all exclusively homosexual. The same was true for Oxford and Cambridge. My own first physical and emotional experiences were at school. Recently I met up with my first love when I was working in Paris and he came to visit. After he left school he found his way to girls because his emotional attachment is with women. He feels most complete with women. As I do with men. Does this mean that sexuality is malleable? I don’t think so. I think it means that boys, and girls, need a physical outlet and all of us crave loving companionship. If we can’t get what we want we’ll make do with what we can get.

    It seems to me that the great breakthrough for us came when the straight world finally stopped trying to define us and instead started to listen. We have interesting things to tell you but you must listen.To be told by straight people who we are and what we want is both condescending and impertinent and is apt to fray tempers.

    And one question: if we think that the sexual abuse of children is a bad thing – I assume we think that – why is the emotional abuse of children by so-called therapists any different? I would think that if this welcome ban saves one child from suicide that it’s worth it. The state outlawed laetrile, why shouldn’t it outlaw snake oil? The pity is that most of this nonsense is pushed by groups that claim to be religious in form or another. But if Nicolosi could be put out of business…!

    The struggle that gay people have historically faced is to cope with the shame most of us internalized while growing up. That’s what explains NARTH: was anyone surprised when one of its leading ‘experts’, George Rekers, was revealed as being gay? The situation is better than it was but there’s still a good way to go. I was recently working with a group of exclusively gay men. It happens sometimes in my business. While it’s welcome it’s no different from working with any other group. We’re just as boring as anyone else.

  • ken

    Tom Van Dyke# ~ Sep 1, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    “Even if well-intentioned, it’s a misuse of political power”

    I fail to see how passing laws to protect vulnerable children from snake-oil salesmen is a misuse of political power.

    “there are many people at this blog proceeding from false assumptions about what science really knows about Same Sex Attraction ”

    what are these “false assumptions” you refer to tom? Note, I’m looking for specific examples.

    “The legislative ban on SSA therapy is just another example of that dynamic”

    Yet again you misrepresent what the law actually does. all while decrying the lack of understanding about the issue.

  • ken

    Ann# ~ Sep 1, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    “What definitive knowledge, other than an awareness of a spontaneous attraction to the same gender, more often than not, at the exclusion of an attraction to the opposite sex, is known?”

    we know that there are a variety of factors (biological, environmental, genetic) involved in determining a person’s, and that it is rarely, “spontaneous.”

    We know for most people orientation is set at a very early age (possibly before birth).

    We know that orientation, identity ,and behaviour are NOT the same things. And in some cases do not coincide.

    we know that gay couples can be (and often are) just as capable of raising healthy, well-adjusted children as straight couples are.

    we know that therapy is unlikely to produce a change in orientation.

    this is just a small sample of what research into sexuality has produced in the last 40 years.

  • Ann

    Couple of thoughts: I would like to point out that there is no such thing as ‘same sex attraction’ or, as some put it, SSA.

    Ken,

    How do you reconcile the above statement with your earlier statement:

    Actually a great deal is known about sexual orientation (including same-sex attraction) and sexuality in general.

  • Ann

    Couple of thoughts: I would like to point out that there is no such thing as ‘same sex attraction’ or, as some put it, SSA.

    Ken,

    How do you reconcile the above statement with your earlier statement:

    Actually a great deal is known about sexual orientation (including same-sex attraction) and sexuality in general.

  • Ann

    I’m sorry Stephen – the above statement was made by Ken, not you.

  • Ann

    I’m sorry Stephen – the above statement was made by Ken, not you.

  • Ann

    we know that there are a variety of factors (biological, environmental, genetic) involved in determining a person’s, and that it is rarely, “spontaneous.”

    Ken,

    We know this as fact or is it something that is a possibility?

    We know for most people orientation is set at a very early age (possibly before

    birth).

    Possibility is not the same as fact. Also, I do not think everyone can conclusively say their orientation was set at a very early age

    We know that orientation, identity ,and behaviour are NOT the same things. And in some cases do not coincide.

    Sexual orientation, identity, and behavior – can you or anyone else define these terms? I’m particularly interested in identity and if you think it is a generic or individual term.

    we know that gay couples can be (and often are) just as capable of raising healthy, well-adjusted children as straight couples are.

    I am not sure if these “studies” are valid or biased. I do know that any loving individual can make a good parent – whether this is comparable to a loving mother and father in an in tact relationship and home is something I think needs further “studying”.

    we know that therapy is unlikely to produce a change in orientation.

    Change? – still a difficult word to apply to everyone’s experience. I think Teresa hit it on the head when she referred to ebb and flow. David Blakeslee also has made good points about mediation. I personally like the word modification rather than change.

    this is just a small sample of what research into sexuality has produced in the last 40 years.

    Please let me know of anything else you know of.

  • Teresa

    Ann, no, I don’t watch EWTN; although, I’ve heard much about it. I suspected you were Catholic, but wasn’t quite sure. Thanks for sharing that. It always makes me happy to find a fellow sojourner in the Church!

  • Teresa

    Ann, no, I don’t watch EWTN; although, I’ve heard much about it. I suspected you were Catholic, but wasn’t quite sure. Thanks for sharing that. It always makes me happy to find a fellow sojourner in the Church!

  • Ann

    And one question: if we think that the sexual abuse of children is a bad thing – I assume we think that – why is the emotional abuse of children by so-called therapists any different? I would think that if this welcome ban saves one child from suicide that it’s worth it. The state outlawed laetrile, why shouldn’t it outlaw snake oil? The pity is that most of this nonsense is pushed by groups that claim to be religious in form or another. But if Nicolosi could be put out of business…!

    Stephen,

    I sincerely doubt that every therapist is emotionally abusing children – I think that has become a catch phrase that activists are promoting. Also, not everyone thinks of therapy as snake oil or that it causes suicide. I think every unethical therapist should lose their license, however, not every therapist is unethical. There are a lot of therapists that treat children and teenagers for a variety of issues and, often, the outcome is very successful. If conversion is off the table, and it should be, then other issues concerning orientation can be addressed and the patient can benefit from authenticity. No therapist can guarantee anything – all they can do is facilitate the patient and impart professional knowledge and experience.

  • Ann

    And one question: if we think that the sexual abuse of children is a bad thing – I assume we think that – why is the emotional abuse of children by so-called therapists any different? I would think that if this welcome ban saves one child from suicide that it’s worth it. The state outlawed laetrile, why shouldn’t it outlaw snake oil? The pity is that most of this nonsense is pushed by groups that claim to be religious in form or another. But if Nicolosi could be put out of business…!

    Stephen,

    I sincerely doubt that every therapist is emotionally abusing children – I think that has become a catch phrase that activists are promoting. Also, not everyone thinks of therapy as snake oil or that it causes suicide. I think every unethical therapist should lose their license, however, not every therapist is unethical. There are a lot of therapists that treat children and teenagers for a variety of issues and, often, the outcome is very successful. If conversion is off the table, and it should be, then other issues concerning orientation can be addressed and the patient can benefit from authenticity. No therapist can guarantee anything – all they can do is facilitate the patient and impart professional knowledge and experience.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    we know that there are a variety of factors (biological, environmental, genetic) involved in determining a person’s, and that it is rarely, “spontaneous.”

    Vague, unhelpful.

    We know for most people orientation is set at a very early age (possibly before birth).</i.

    No, we don't "know" that at all.

    We know that orientation, identity ,and behaviour are NOT the same things. And in some cases do not coincide.

    Vague and again, unhelpful.

    we know that gay couples can be (and often are) just as capable of raising healthy, well-adjusted children as straight couples are.

    We “know” no such thing. The research is vague, without large enough sample sizes. “Can be” is certainly true, that the best gay couple acting as parents will be better than the worst heterosexual one. But as Stanton Jones points out, the sketchy research also suggests that children raised by gays might be 4 times more likely to become gay adults themselves. But of course you obviously are unaware of these red flags, which is why a principled discussion is impossible.

    You already “know” everything you want to know and nothing else. Therefore, I’m writing to others who might be reading this to be a little more modest in their certainty about what we “know.”

    we know that therapy is unlikely to produce a change in orientation.

    Unlikely?–at this point–yes, it certainly seems so. But it’s heavy-handed and unscientific to use the power of the government to ban it at this early stage of understanding what causes sexual attraction/orientation in the first place.

    this is just a small sample of what research into sexuality has produced in the last 40 years.

    That was just a small sample of how everything we think we “know” isn’t known atall.

    since some folks refused to read Dr. Stanton Jones’s article,

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/01/same-sex-science

    another excerpt:

    “Is homosexuality biologically determined at birth? A pervasive understanding is settling into Western culture that homosexual orientation, indeed any and all sexual orientations, has been proven by science to be a given of the human person and rooted in biology. Why does this falsehood—that homosexuality has been proven to have an exclusively biological cause—matter? It is the basis for asserting that sexual orientation is the same sort of characteristic as race or skin color, which has become, for instance, the foundational metaphor in the push for the right to marry someone of the same sex.

    One reason it is generally believed that homosexuality is conclusively caused by biological factors is the supposed lack of a credible alternative. Two astonishing examples: The 2009 APA task force report on Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE), Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, presents over and over as established “scientific fact” that “no empirical studies or peer-reviewed research supports theories attributing same-sex sexual orientation to family dysfunction or trauma.” Neuroscientist Simon LeVay, author of a major book on the science of same-sex attraction, in considering environmental and psychological factors influencing sexual orientation concludes that “there is no actual evidence to support any of those ideas.”

    There are, in fact, many such studies and a lot of actual evidence. Recent studies show that familial, cultural, and other environmental factors contribute to same-sex attraction. Broken families, absent fathers, older mothers, and being born and living in urban settings all are associated with homosexual experience or attraction. Even that most despised of hypothesized causal contributors, childhood sexual abuse, has recently received significant empirical validation as a partial contributor from a sophisticated thirty-year longitudinal study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. Of course, these variables at most partially determine later homosexual experience, and most children who experienced any or all of these still grow up heterosexual, but the effects are nonetheless real.”

  • Boo

    “Boo avoids burden of proof and is fine with using the power of the state to back her opinions. For they are all opinions–we know so little about SSA.”

    The burden of proof is on those claiming they can change sexual orientation. After decades of trying they have nothing. If people don’t want to act on their sexual urges, that’s called “not having sex.” No one is forcing anyone to have sex. If you don’t want to have sex, then don’t. There is a good amount of evidence that this “therapy: is harmful. Hurting children is bad. The state has an interest in preventing harm to children. It really is that simple. If parents want a therapist to engage in trepanning on their child to get the evil spirits out, the state has a legitimate interest in banning that practice.

  • Boo

    “I sincerely doubt that every therapist is emotionally abusing children”

    Okay, take a step back and think about what you just wrote. The best that you can say about this “therapy” is that not every therapist engaged in it might be emotionally abusing children. Really. That’s quite some high standard you’re holding them to.

    Of course, I myself would have to disagree with you, since the entire premise of the therapy is based on telling people that they are right to hate themselves.

  • David M

    I certainly agree with those who suggest that celibacy can be a beautiful way of life for those who are called to it and choose it. But it is not an easy path. Almost any monk or nun will say as much. It is not easy to comprehend the love of God without a human relationship that models, however imperfectly, divine love. I believe it would be as much a mistake to say that all gay people are called to celibacy as it would be to say that all straight people are called to celibacy. Not even all who choose the monastic life, which is surely the best support system for most celibates, are successful in integrating their sexuality and personhood before God. Those who are successful become truly beautiful persons. But there are many who struggle mightily and never achieve the promise of the life of prayer or service.

    As for change therapy for adolescents, I believe it is important to keep in mind the social context of change therapy. If we lived in a society in which a gay orientation were as acceptable as a straight orientation, it might be possible to argue that change therapy is at least theoretically a viable option. But if we lived in such a society, why would anyone want change therapy? Let’s face it: change therapy is an outgrowth of the social stigma attached to being gay. As such, it perpetuates and reinforces that stigma. Reinforcing that stigma is abusive to any teenager who suspects he/she is or may be gay. It contributes to the pain which leads to many suicides. The preservation of life surely trumps any supposed theoretical value to continuing these pointless “experiments.”

  • stephen

    Ann, any ‘therapist’ who goes into business to straighten up the gay should be disbarred. Let’s remember the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s.. all the decades in which gay men and women subsidized the psychoanalytic industry by trying to go straight. It didn’t work then and doesn’t work now.

    We are all master of our fate. We are not all masters of other people’s fate.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    We are all master of our fate. We are not all masters of other people’s fate.

    It’s bans on “conversion therapy” make politicians the masters of everyone’s fate.

    Dr. Stanton Jones:

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/01/same-sex-science

    “Our original round of findings was published in a book titled Ex-Gays?; the latest round, in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy.

    Of the 61 subjects who completed the study, 23 percent reported success in the form of “conversion” to heterosexual orientation and functioning, while 30 percent reported they were able to live chastely and had disidentified themselves from homosexual orientation. On the other hand, 20 percent reported giving up and fully embracing homosexual identity, and the remaining 27 percent continued the process of attempted change with limited and unsatisfactory success. On average, statistically significant decreases in homosexual orientation were reported across the entire sample, while a smaller but still significant increase of heterosexual attraction was reported. The attempt to change orientation was not found to lead to increases in psychological distress on average; indeed, the study found several small significant improvements in psychological distress associated with the interventions. And lest we fall prey to the same mistakes we have been criticizing in others, we have said repeatedly that because our sample was not demonstrably representative of those seeking change among all religious homosexuals, these are likely optimistic outcome estimates.

    I conclude that homosexual orientation is, contrary to the supposed consensus, sometimes mutable. “Homosexuality” is a multifaceted phenomenon; there are likely many homosexualities, with some perhaps more malleable than others.”

    Perhaps Dr. Stanton’s research is faulty, but at this time, there’s no way the government can know that for sure. If he is correct, banning therapy for unwanted Same Sex Attraction is not science but anti-science, not compassion but brutality.

  • Teresa

    Piggybacking on Dr. Stanton Jones article, the group chosen was from Exodus Ministries, and I believe was not a longitudinal study: 5, 10, 15 years later. Exodus Ministries are a very sketchy group from which to do a random selection. It’s Ministries were led by non-licensed, non-accredited group leaders who mostly followed a 12-Step program, or some other in-house bricolage.

    Dr. Stanton Jones has the humility in citing this study to at least admit:

    And lest we fall prey to the same mistakes we have been criticizing in others, we have said repeatedly that because our sample was not demonstrably representative of those seeking change among all religious homosexuals, these are likely optimistic outcome estimates.

    In my opinion, homosexuality lies within the provenance of faith and morals, because at the end of the day, whether a magic bullet will be found within nature as the basic predisposing factor of same sex attractions, that will change nothing insofar as rightly considering homosexuality as ‘ab-normal’ or to use Dr. Stanton Jones’ term “sexual brokenness”. The theological explanation and answer comes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s paragraphs regarding Homosexuality, Paragraphs 2357-2359.

    The following quote from Dr. Stanton Jones is excellent, in my opinion, and seems to say what I said in my prior comment regarding NARTH and Exodus being part of the problem, not the solution:

    So where does this leave us? We know much more now than we did ten and thirty years ago about the emotional well-being of homosexual persons, the complicated interaction of nature and nurture in the causation of sexual orientation, of the complicated and difficult possibilities of sexual-orientation malleability, of the functional and descriptive characteristics manifest in same-sex partnerships, and of the contours of the psychological identities of homosexual persons. The contributions of science to this area, however, remain sketchy, limited, and puzzling. It is remarkable how little scientific humility is in evidence given the primitive nature of our knowledge.

    Nevertheless, our culture is polarized between those relentlessly advancing the full acceptance and normalization of homosexuality, indeed of all sexual variations, and those resisting those moves. As religious believers, we must confess our own culpability in creating the mess we are in.

    We were complicit, even if ignorantly and passively so, in the cultural embrace of the disease conceptualization of homosexuality. We off-loaded responsibility for the articulation of a thoughtful, caring, theologically rich, and pastorally sensitive understanding of sexual brokenness grounded in our various religious traditions by conceptualizing homosexuality as a disease, and so we were unprepared for the vacuum created by that explanation’s timely demise. The best ecclesiastical, professional, legal, and social policy will be founded not on falsehoods or grotesque and indefensible simplifications but on a clearheaded grasp of reality in all its complexities, as well as on a humble recognition of all that we do not know.

  • ken

    Ann# ~ Sep 1, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    “We know this as fact or is it something that is a possibility?”

    No it is a fact that there are a variety of factors that determine a person’s orientation.

    “Possibility is not the same as fact. Also, I do not think everyone can conclusively say their orientation was set at a very early age”

    I didn’t say “everyone” I said “most people.” Nor was a attempting to assert that it was a fact that orientation was set before birth.

    “Sexual orientation, identity, and behavior – can you or anyone else define these terms? I’m particularly interested in identity and if you think it is a generic or individual term.”

    orientation describes a person’s emotional and sexual desires (or inclinations towards people of the same, opposite, or both sex(es).

    behaviour what a person does in regards to fulfilling emotional or sexual desires (predominately it deals with sexual behaviours)

    identity what a person perceives or presents himself (straight, gay, bi, ex-gay)

    I don’t understand what you mean by a “generic or individual” term.

    “Change? – still a difficult word to apply to everyone’s experience.”

    No, what is difficult is to understand what many mean when they say “change” because they often do not specify (and I suspect in many cases deliberately) what they are claiming has changed.

    I was clear in what I meant by change: a change in orientation.

  • ken

    Ann# ~ Sep 1, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    “We know this as fact or is it something that is a possibility?”

    No it is a fact that there are a variety of factors that determine a person’s orientation.

    “Possibility is not the same as fact. Also, I do not think everyone can conclusively say their orientation was set at a very early age”

    I didn’t say “everyone” I said “most people.” Nor was a attempting to assert that it was a fact that orientation was set before birth.

    “Sexual orientation, identity, and behavior – can you or anyone else define these terms? I’m particularly interested in identity and if you think it is a generic or individual term.”

    orientation describes a person’s emotional and sexual desires (or inclinations towards people of the same, opposite, or both sex(es).

    behaviour what a person does in regards to fulfilling emotional or sexual desires (predominately it deals with sexual behaviours)

    identity what a person perceives or presents himself (straight, gay, bi, ex-gay)

    I don’t understand what you mean by a “generic or individual” term.

    “Change? – still a difficult word to apply to everyone’s experience.”

    No, what is difficult is to understand what many mean when they say “change” because they often do not specify (and I suspect in many cases deliberately) what they are claiming has changed.

    I was clear in what I meant by change: a change in orientation.

  • ken

    Tom Van Dyke# ~ Sep 2, 2013 at 12:27 am

    ” “we know that gay couples can be (and often are) just as capable of raising healthy, well-adjusted children as straight couples are.”

    We “know” no such thing. The research is vague, without large enough sample sizes. “Can be” is certainly true, that the best gay couple acting as parents will be better than the worst heterosexual one.”

    You contradict yourself in in 2 sentences Tom. Impressive. 1st, you claim it is not known, then 2 sentences later you claim it is true.

    “But as Stanton Jones points out, the sketchy research also suggests that children raised by gays might be 4 times more likely to become gay adults themselves.”

    Actually, what he said was: “my informal synthesis would be that gay parenting approximately triples or quadruples the rate of same-sex attraction.”

    And then you (once again) misrepresented he said. Note, Jones didn’t say (as you did) that children raised by gay parents would be more likely to become gay adults. If you were actually familiar with the research into gay parenting, you would realize what Jones was likely talking about is the greater openness towards trying a same-sex relationship (experimenting) by children raised by gay parents. Also, “informal synthesis” basically means he is guessing (or rather putting his own spin on he data).

    finally, your implication that being gay is a negative to parenting says more about you than it does the research.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    “Can be” is certainly true, that the best gay couple acting as parents will be better than the worst heterosexual one.”

    You contradict yourself in in 2 sentences Tom. Impressive. 1st, you claim it is not known, then 2 sentences later you claim it is true.

    Actually, I was half-conceding a point, out of honesty. Being raised by Mr. & Mrs. RuPaul will undoubtedly be better than being raised by Mr. & Mrs. Charles Manson. And of course that’s an extreme example for effect. A dysfunctional mother-father couple is worse than any other arrangement that’s not dysfunctional–grandparents, adoptive parents, single parents. An orphanage, for that matter.

    “But as Stanton Jones points out, the sketchy research also suggests that children raised by gays might be 4 times more likely to become gay adults themselves.”

    Actually, what he said was: “my informal synthesis would be that gay parenting approximately triples or quadruples the rate of same-sex attraction.” And then you (once again) misrepresented he said.

    I put “might be” in italics. Perhaps. Maybe. Again, being honest, using italics to note that it’s only a possibility. But it would be dishonest for you to ignore that possibility.

    Again, it all points to what we don’t know, which is my basic point here, that a lot of people have certainty about a lot of stuff that’s uncertain, and presume to make laws based on “knowledge” that isn’t necessarily true atall.

    finally, your implication that being gay is a negative to parenting says more about you than it does the research.

    Ah, the personal attack, right on schedule, Ken. Why principled discussion is impossible.

    Actually, my point would not in the least argue that a person with Same Sex Attraction would be any less good a parent than a heterosexual! The question is whether the child will be on the whole better off with a mother AND a father, rather than with 2 parents of the same gender.

    That men and women are different, each bringing a unique, necessary and unduplicatable dimension to parenting, would be the question, that all other things being equal, a child deserves a mother AND a father, and perhaps we are wrong to treat all couples the same–not because of a failing of the gay couple, but because a mother-father couple offers a more rounded support system.

    Ken, I’d appreciate that you read me with more care and charity next time. These are very sensitive issues, and bringing a grenade rather than a scalpel is unhelpful. And I have no intention of corresponding with anyone who assaults my character.

    We are writing for other readers, and I see Teresa has found the original Stanton Jones article

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/01/same-sex-science

    helpful. Her position that religion and morality have a place in mental health and therefore social science is interesting, although is a philosophical argument I expect to be impossible in these comboxes. For now, Teresa and I agree with Dr. Jones:

    The best ecclesiastical, professional, legal, and social policy will be founded not on falsehoods or grotesque and indefensible simplifications but on a clearheaded grasp of reality in all its complexities, as well as on a humble recognition of all that we do not know.

  • David

    A significant secondary benefit of the 9th Circuit decision is the joy I experience at reading the distress and frustration of “Teresa” and “Tom Van Dyke.” These 2 religionists spend hours and hours posting haughty comments here, accomplishing nothing and persuading no one. The only thing that comes across from their many comments over time is that they couldn’t care less about the lives of young gay people. How lovely to see them angry.

    Change therapy doesn’t work. If it did, there would, after so many decades and tens of thousands of patients, be substantial clinical evidence that it works. If it really worked, we would be long past the time when the efficacy of the therapy was in question. Instead, as the 9th Circuit confirmed, “the overwhelming consensus was that SOCE was harmful and ineffective.” p. 28.

    The evidence for change therapy doesn’t exist except for a tiny number of self-reported and unverified claims by individuals highly motivated to report change. People like John Paulk. Indeed, you could fit all of the self-reported ex-gays in the United States into a small conference room and no one would lack for leg room.

    Despite 30 years of operation, there isn’t a single study from Dr. Nicolosi’s Aquinas Clinic. Not a single report from the delightful Richard Cohen of IHF. Of course, there is Dr. Nicholas Cummings’ voluminous evidence of success on a grand scale at Kaiser Permanente, but alas, as Throckmorton reported here a few weeks ago, every trace of that evidence has vanished from the face of the Earth, leaving only unsubstantiated claims. All these opportunities to prove effectiveness and put the controversy to rest, and yet somehow the opportunities just fade away. Which is what is happening to SOCE, right before our eyes.

  • Patrocles

    I concede that Nicolosi – in spite of his good initial ideas – is at a dead end, scientifically. And a moratorium will not do much damage to the development of SOCE in the long run.

    But there are some interesting problems. SOCE has been discussed as a change from homo- to heterosexuality. But Dr. Throckmorton has argued lately that there is something like bisexuality. Is it okay to ban every attempt of changing homosexuality to bisexuality, too, even if the problem is not really discussed till now?

    And what is meant with “neutral” interventions, e.g. in behavior or gender expression?

    A boy may practise counter-sexual (girlish) behaviour or gender expression because he doesn’t intimately know and isn’t secure in the “normal” boyish ways – in this case, isn’t it okay to coach him, training the boyish ways?

    Of course, that ought to be done “neutrally” in a technical sense – the therapist has to tell him that, after he really knows both ways, it’s up to him which way he prefers. But non-technically, it’s hardly possible that anyone in this story – parents, child, therapist – feels completely indifferent and apathetic about the results. (So, does the term “neutral” include the personal, perhaps subconscious, emotions of the therapist? And isn’t here something demanded which is not demanded by any other therapist?)

  • Ann

    identity what a person perceives or presents himself (straight, gay, bi, ex-gay)

    Ken,

    How is this perceived and presented – other than the individual awareness of spontaneous, and often, enduring attractions to the same sex? At what point in one’s life would they take this awareness and determine it an identity?

  • Ann

    A significant secondary benefit of the 9th Circuit decision is the joy I experience at reading the distress and frustration of “Teresa” and “Tom Van Dyke.” These 2 religionists spend hours and hours posting haughty comments here, accomplishing nothing and persuading no one. The only thing that comes across from their many comments over time is that they couldn’t care less about the lives of young gay people. How lovely to see them angry

    David,

    It is obvious you do not understand their level of intelligence, critical thought, and ability to engage in a healthy conversation about an issue we are all interested in. The comment about them not caring is egregious at best.

  • Ann

    A significant secondary benefit of the 9th Circuit decision is the joy I experience at reading the distress and frustration of “Teresa” and “Tom Van Dyke.” These 2 religionists spend hours and hours posting haughty comments here, accomplishing nothing and persuading no one. The only thing that comes across from their many comments over time is that they couldn’t care less about the lives of young gay people. How lovely to see them angry

    David,

    It is obvious you do not understand their level of intelligence, critical thought, and ability to engage in a healthy conversation about an issue we are all interested in. The comment about them not caring is egregious at best.

  • Ann

    Her position that religion and morality have a place in mental health and therefore social science is interesting, although is a philosophical argument I expect to be impossible in these comboxes.

    Tom,

    If a belief in God, or for some, a higher power, is removed from the equation or taken off the table, then we lose our sense of morality and how to live with and treat each other in a civilized world. How we use this belief is the important thing to remember, for any medical or psychological professional – first, do no harm.

  • Ann

    Her position that religion and morality have a place in mental health and therefore social science is interesting, although is a philosophical argument I expect to be impossible in these comboxes.

    Tom,

    If a belief in God, or for some, a higher power, is removed from the equation or taken off the table, then we lose our sense of morality and how to live with and treat each other in a civilized world. How we use this belief is the important thing to remember, for any medical or psychological professional – first, do no harm.

  • Ann

    Tom,

    I spoke earlier of the role of religion and morality for professionals who take the well being of their patients to heart, and often, hold it in their hands.

    For other individuals a common axiom is that if God were removed from the equation of life, all bets are off as to how we would live and treat each other. Religion has made civility possible.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Tom Van Dyke,

    “not because of a failing of the gay couple, but because a mother-father couple offers a more rounded support system.

    I don’t agree with you. A child can have a father who does not fit the stereotypical manly man type of father. Your claims of straight parents simply by virtue of their heterosexuality provide a more rounded support system are suspect. Kids don’t grow up in a vacuum, well unless they are homeschooled. They get plenty of interaction of male, and female and all along the spectrum of what most people consider want is more manly types & girly types from school, and extended family. Not everybody has a sports dad or a makeup and blow dried mom. Kids sort it out, well except for maybe the homeschooled ones.

  • Throbert McGee

    Tom Van Dyke, quoting Stanton Jones:

    while 30 percent reported they were able to live chastely and had disidentified themselves from homosexual orientation.

    I would tend to read into this the widespread assumption that “homosexual virgin” is an oxymoron, even though everyone takes it as given that a person can be fully virginal and fully heterosexual at the same time.

    Indeed, it’s safe to say that roughly 100% of traditional Christians would describe Jesus in this way: He was completely celibate and never had sex, but the sex he was never having was — obviously! — the heterosexual kind. (He never slept with Mary Magdalene, and some would say that he was never even briefly tempted to sleep with her — yet nonetheless he was self-evidently heterosexual.)

    (As Yossarian’s atheist girlfriend says in Catch-22, “The God I don’t believe in is a just God, a loving God, a merciful God — not the monster you make him out to be!!!”)

  • StraightGrandmother

    Teresa, I can see you are hitting the pews again, (smile)

    Nicolosi said in a Court filing that 2/3 of his business is children so clearly adults are not flocking to his so called therapy. No parents should not have the right to drag their children to a therapy that has no known verifiable successes and ton of anecdotal harms. Let them wait until they are adults where we can see out of Nicolosi’s own mouth, people will NOT seek out his therapy. It is only parents dragging there children to his office he even manages to make a living.

    I am not for banning the “therapy” but I am for banning it for children.

    They got nothing to back up their claims, therefore ban it until people are of age.

  • Ann

    No parents should not have the right to drag their children to a therapy that has no known verifiable successes and ton of anecdotal harms. Let them wait until they are adults where we can see out of Nicolosi’s own mouth, people will NOT seek out his therapy. It is only parents dragging there children to his office he even manages to make a living.

    SGM,

    I see that you have been hitting on the advocate bandwagon again (smile)

    You have no right to tell a parent what to do with their children when it comes to their well being. That you are straight, and a grandmother, puts you in the best of all worlds, however, does not give you carte blanche to talk about something you have no experience in. Parents do not flock or drag their children to him or any other therapist. They come out of concern for the well being of their children. Also, here is not a ton of anecdotal harms – nor is there verifiable proof that parents and their teenagers or younger children have not been helped in some way. You have made the choice to believe the worst, and for some reason, that makes you feel good, but imposing this belief on others is deleterious.

  • Ann

    A child can have a father who does not fit the stereotypical manly man type of father.

    SGM,

    Can you describe the manly man type of father?

  • Ann

    I certainly agree with those who suggest that celibacy can be a beautiful way of life for those who are called to it and choose it. But it is not an easy path. Almost any monk or nun will say as much.

    David M.,

    Have you heard of Dolores Hart? Her story is beautiful and speaks to the love she was called to and has found peace with.

  • ken

    Ann# ~ Sep 3, 2013 at 9:43 am

    “identity what a person perceives or presents himself (straight, gay, bi, ex-gay)

    Ken,

    How is this perceived and presented – other than the individual awareness of spontaneous, and often, enduring attractions to the same sex? At what point in one’s life would they take this awareness and determine it an identity?”

    I don’t understand your questions. if you are trying to make some sort of point, state it, because I have no idea what you are getting at here.

  • Ann

    Ken,

    Sorry – let me try to articulate better. You said in an earlier post that identity is how a person perceives or presents himself. My question about this is – is there anything other than the individual awareness of spontaneous, and often, enduring attractions that make up a sexual identity? The second part of my question is this – when do most individuals take this awareness and determine it is an identity rather than a part of themselves?

  • ken

    Ann# ~ Sep 3, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    “You have no right to tell a parent what to do with their children when it comes to their well being. ”

    I disagree. there are many cases where the government tells parents what the can do with regards to the well being of their children, and rightly so.

    “there is not a ton of anecdotal harms ”

    there is enough. and subjecting children to unsound “therapies” largely based on false narratives about sexual orientation can’t be good. Warren has previously posted about the harms that can be done by “reparative therapy”.

  • Ann

    Ken,

    If a therapist endorses conversion or complete change of orientation and practices methods that endorse that , then I agree with you. I am referring to therapists that do not believe this way or practice these methods. Parents who give their children the benefit of therapy to understand their feelings and help put them into perspective, I feel is a very responsible and loving thing to do.

  • ken

    Ann# ~ Sep 3, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    “My question about this is – is there anything other than the individual awareness of spontaneous, and often, enduring attractions that make up a sexual identity? ”

    You keep using the word “spontaneous”, why? Nothing I have talked about is spontaneous”, certainly not identity. Our various identities (man, woman, white, african-american, asian, latino, american, mexican, gay, straight, bi, conservative, liberal, pro-life, pro-choice, vegan, vegatarian and countless others) are things we develop as we grow, they don’t just suddenly happen.

    “when do most individuals take this awareness and determine it is an identity rather than a part of themselves?”

    I have know idea when “most” people realize their sexual identity. Some will realize what their orientation is as teenagers, others not until decades later, and others as pre-teens.

  • ken

    Ann# ~ Sep 3, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    ” Parents who give their children the benefit of therapy to understand their feelings and help put them into perspective, I feel is a very responsible and loving thing to do.”

    the law in question has nothing to do with that sort of therapy.

  • Ann

    You keep using the word “spontaneous”, why?

    It is a word that Dr. Throckmorton has used and it made sense to me. Spontaneous is something that comes to us suddenly and is not planned. Enduring is that they do not go away. The question I posed to you was whether these spontaneous and enduring attractions (same sex or opposite sex) make a sexual identity or is something else?

  • Ann

    I have know idea when “most” people realize their sexual identity. Some will realize what their orientation is as teenagers, others not until decades later, and others as pre-teens.

    My question was about the awareness of sexual attractions and what determines when an individual takes this awareness and attaches an identity to it? Third question – what determines a sexual identity or is it subjective to each individual?

  • Ann

    the law in question has nothing to do with that sort of therapy.

    Right – then how do we know, except for the limited few, how a therapist would approach this issue? I think there are many more good therapists than unethical ones and they should not be judged by the few bad ones. Putting all therapists in the same boat to advance a cause seems unfair, if not cruel.

  • ken

    Ann# ~ Sep 3, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    “The question I posed to you was whether these spontaneous and enduring attractions (same sex or opposite sex) make a sexual identity or is something else?”

    Once again, identity is how some perceives him/herself. Their attractions certainly contribute to that perception but other factors contribute as well, including societal influences. for example in some latin american societies only men who have sex with other men are only considered “‘gay” if they are in the submissive (“bottom”). Thus a gay man how was strictly a “top” might not identify as gay.

    “My question was about the awareness of sexual attractions and what determines when an individual takes this awareness and attaches an identity to it?”

    When the person actually does it. I.e when the person uses there awareness and understanding and applies and identity to him/herself.

    ” Third question – what determines a sexual identity or is it subjective to each individual?”

    The individual does.

    Again, what is your point with these questions? Do you not understand what identity is?

  • ken

    Ann# ~ Sep 3, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    “how do we know, except for the limited few, how a therapist would approach this issue?”

    you could simply ask the therapist how they approach the issue. Any decent therapist would be willing to discuss his/her therapeutic approach.

    ” Putting all therapists in the same boat to advance a cause seems unfair, if not cruel.”

    who is “putting all therapists in the same boat” ?

  • Ann

    Again, what is your point with these questions? Do you not understand what identity is?

    Ken,

    I do not think the majority of individuals understand identity and how it can become enmeshed with our sexual orientations. Sex is understandable – connecting it to and identity is not. I think most people will tell you they understand but they do not. I have heard repeatedly that the only difference in orientations is who we desire to emotionally and sexually connect with. I have also heard this isn’t true – that there are other factors involved that do not include sexual feelings. This is what people do not understand. That is my point.

  • William

    @Ann:

    “I have heard repeatedly that the only difference in orientations is who we desire to emotionally and sexually connect with. I have also heard this isn’t true – that there are other factors involved that do not include sexual feelings.”

    Where and from whom have you heard this? What are these other factors that do not include sexual feelings? Presumably they operate both with other-sex orientation and with same-sex orientation, do they? What research has led to the discovery of these factors, and where has the empirical evidence for their operation been recorded?

  • Ann

    William,

    The individuals I am referring to are people I have personally met or been associated with. They were either talking with me directly or others in a conversation. None of them were associated with any medical or psychological or scientific organization. I also do not think it is uncommon for anyone to have heard the same thing from people they know or have known. I think I have read on this blog more than several times that sexual identity is more than just who we desire to have sex with or connect to on an emotional basis. I have always been interested in what that means instead of buying into the stereotypical view that is promoted by most people who have no idea what they are talking about.

  • William

    Ann,

    And these people whom you have personally met or been associated with, and who were either talking with you directly or others in a conversation. How did you establish that they knew what they were talking about?

  • Ann

    William,

    I didn’t – that is why I am asking. On this particular blog, the individuals who have opined about sexual identity have indicated that there are other factors/personality traits that have nothing to do with sex that make up how one perceives and identifies them self. I think this is a very misunderstood topic and too often assumptions are made – I was and am just looking for clarity – if that is possible.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Bring on the next State! Shut them DOWN! Shut down all therapists who take a young innocent child and try and coerce them into thinking that they can go from gay to straight if they just try hard enough

    SHUT THEM DOWN!

    I hear New York is in play.

    You have to protect children from their parents sometimes and this is one of those times.


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