Tony Perkins: ex-gay therapy is like rescuing someone from a burning building.

Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council (where they do little to no research and work to prevent families from forming…but they are a council, so they’ve got that going) reacted to efforts in his state to make ex-gay “therapy” illegal in some situations by shitting out the first simile that came to mind:

“If people want to engage in behavior that is destructive, personally, I want to warn them about it, I don’t want to be silenced from the ability of saying ,‘Hey, your house is on fire, you might want to come out,’” Perkins said. “Of course you’re saying that’s absurd, who would ever pass a law saying you can’t say ‘your house is on fire’?”

“Well, more and more states are actually moving to make it illegal for children under eighteen to receive counseling to come out of homosexuality.”

Perkins lamented that such laws “silence” parents who want to “help” their child “come out of a lifestyle we know is destructive and harmful.”

I guess that could be true…if fire didn’t burn and instead gave you orgasms.  But, if that were the case, firemen would need to mind their own fucking business.

Funny thing though, if you ask the psychological experts about homosexuality, they will say:

The longstanding consensus of the behavioral and social sciences and the health and mental health professions is that homosexuality per se is a normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation (Bell, Weinberg & Hammersmith, 1981; Bullough, 1976; Ford & Beach 1951 ; Kinsey, Pomeroy, & Martin, 1948; Kinsey, Pomeroy, Martin, & Gebhard, 1953 ).

They will also say of ex-gay “therapy” that it’s not therapy at all, and that while homosexuality is not harmful, attempts to shame someone for their sexual orientation and insistence that a person should attempt to alter their sexual orientation are psychologically harmful:

APA is concerned about ongoing efforts to mischaracterize homosexuality and promote the notion that sexual orientation can be changed and about the resurgence of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE)1. SOCE has been controversial due to tensions between the values held by some faith-based organizations, on the one hand, and those held by lesbian, gay and bisexual rights organizations and professional and scientific organizations, on the other (Drescher, 2003; Drescher & Zucker, 2006). Some individuals and groups have promoted the idea of homosexuality as symptomatic of developmental defects or spiritual and moral failings and have argued that SOCE, including psychotherapy and religious efforts, could alter homosexual feelings and behaviors (Drescher & Zucker, 2006; Morrow & Beckstead, 2004). Many of these individuals and groups appeared to be embedded within the larger context of conservative religious political movements that have supported the stigmatization of homosexuality on political or religious grounds (Drescher, 2003; Southern Poverty Law Center, 2005; Drescher & Zucker, 2006). Psychology, as a science, and various faith traditions, as theological systems, can acknowledge and respect their profoundly different methodological and philosophical viewpoints. The APA concludes that psychology must rely on proven methods of scientific inquiry based on empirical data, on which hypotheses and propositions are confirmed or disconfirmed, as the basis to explore and understand human behavior (APA, 2008a; 2008b).

In response to these concerns, APA appointed the Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation to review the available research on SOCE and to provide recommendations to the Association. The Task Force reached the following findings.

Recent studies of participants in SOCE identify a population of individuals who experience serious distress related to same sex sexual attractions. Most of these participants are Caucasian males who report that their religion is extremely important to them ( Beckstead & Morrow, 2004; Nicolosi, Byrd, & Potts, 2000; Schaeffer, Hyde, Kroencke, McCormick, & Nottebaum, 2000; Shidlo & Schroeder, 2002, Spitzer, 2003). These individuals report having pursued a variety of religious and secular efforts intended to help them to change their sexual orientation. To date, the research has not fully addressed age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, disability, language, and socioeconomic status in the population of distressed individuals.

There are no studies of adequate scientific rigor to conclude whether or not recent SOCE do or do not work to change a person’s sexual orientation. Scientifically rigorous older work in this area (e.g., Birk, Huddleston, Miller, & Cohler, 1971; James, 1978; McConaghy, 1969, 1976; McConaghy, Proctor, & Barr, 1972; Tanner, 1974, 1975) found that sexual orientation (i.e., erotic attractions and sexual arousal oriented to one sex or the other, or both) was unlikely to change due to efforts designed for this purpose. Some individuals appeared to learn how to ignore or limit their attractions. However, this was much less likely to be true for people whose sexual attractions were initially limited to people of the same sex.

Although sound data on the safety of SOCE are extremely limited, some individuals reported being harmed by SOCE. Distress and depression were exacerbated. Belief in the hope of sexual orientation change followed by the failure of the treatment was identified as a significant cause of distress and negative self-image (Beckstead & Morrow, 2004; Shidlo & Schroeder, 2002).

So what’s happening is a harmful “treatment” (harmful, like a burning building) with no support in research and which has been panned by the consensus in the field is being forbidden in order to protect people.  Ironically, LGBT people wouldn’t need protection if not for people like Tony Perkins and people pretending to represent the consensus of psychology (while simultaneously undermining it) seeking to do them harm under the guise of “helping”.

People get protected and they whine about religious liberty…as if they have the right to do harm to those they don’t like.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

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