Today, the Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays dropped a news release criticizing Virginia’s public universities for failing to distribute their literature to students. In the release, PFOX claims discrimination based on religion and ex-gayness is what motivates the lack of ex-gay literature.
While I don’t doubt that some of those counseling center staffers have problems with conservative religion, I submit that they are correct in their decision not to provide PFOX literature to students. Much of what PFOX and related groups (e.g., International Healing Foundation, Voice of the Voiceless) promote is scientifically questionable and should be avoided for that reason alone.
The irony is that the group who conducted the undercover investigation accuse the university centers of suppressing accurate information when it is the ex-gay groups which (also?) do this. They know there is no peer reviewed research on therapeutic change that supports them. They also know that at least one of their therapeutic methods (i.e., cartharsis) has been evaluated via research and found to be harmful in some instances. They also know that their narrative regarding homosexuality (i.e., failures in the parent-child relationship) is scientifically dubious and yet they continue to promote this view as if it is supported by research and experience.It may be that the counseling center directors favor gay affirming religion over non-affirming religion. If so, this would be problematic if the centers are publicly funded. However, any such finding of fact would not be reason to hand out erroneous literature to students. If there are non-affirming groups on campus or in the community (e.g., Andrew Marin’s groups or some other religious group which does not promote debunked theories and methods) then information about those groups should be made available to religious students. Therapeutically neutral approaches should be taught to center counselors to help them avoid establishing an approved religious stance on the subject in a public university. However, PFOX and Voice of the Voiceless should not be allowed to use religious discrimination as a basis to promote their problematic materials.