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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What Every Parent of a Gay Child Needs to Know: 6. It's not your fault (It's God's!)

Owing to the relentless propaganda coming from the Religious Right and their allies, that tries to convince us all that parents, especially distant fathers and overbearing mothers produce gay children, many parents feel responsible for their children not being "normal."

A few years ago I attended a lecture by the chief proponent of this theory, known as Reparative Therapy (or Conversion Therapy), Dr. Joseph Nicolosi.  After it was over, I asked him why I turned out to be straight when my parents fit the description perfectly.  "Well," he said, "It doesn't always work that way."  It sure doesn't, and for good reason.  Every respectable professional association not only condemns this theory, but labels it positively harmful.  It promotes needless guilt in parents and holds out false hope that gays can be "returned" to heterosexuality.

Here's a summary statement taken from
The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses in 1973. The American Psychological Association followed suit in 1975; the National Association of Social Workers in 1977; the National Psychoanalytic Association finally followed suit in 1991, stating that homosexuality was not a disorder. The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association, American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychological Association, American School Health Association, Interfaith Alliance Foundation, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Social Workers, and National Education Association formed the "Just the Facts Coalition." They developed and endorsed "Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation & Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators and School Personnel" in 1999. 
The primer says, in part:
"The most important fact about 'reparative therapy,' also sometimes known as 'conversion' therapy, is that it is based on an understanding of homosexuality that has been rejected by all the major health and mental health professions. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Social Workers, together representing more than 477,000 health and mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus there is no need for a 'cure.'

In January 2012, Exodus International president Alan Chambers unexpectedly came out against the view that gays can be made straight. Here's the full quote: “The majority of [gay] people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them, have not experienced a change in their orientation.” (Full article here: Interestingly, that would likely include Chambers himself, who has for years claimed an orientation change.  Exodus International is the leading organization contending that gays can change.  

I have in my files on a CD, a speech from a former member of EI's board of directors suggesting that, since a preponderance of gays don't change, Exodus International should change its motto to "Come suffer with us." 

There has been only one “scientific” study that has held that gays do change.  It was conducted by none other than the psychologist who led the American Psychological Association to remove homosexuality from the list of mental disorders in 1973, Dr. Robert Spitzer.  It was his presumed objectivity that gave the study its prestige.  Recently, Dr. Spitzer retracted his study with an apology to the gay community for the harm he had caused. 

The most important thing I believe parents of gay children should take from these professionals is that there is absolutely nothing to be concerned about.  No one did anything wrong, and your kids are perfectly normal. This is not to say that there will be no issues associated with gayness that you and your child will have to face.  However, these conditions are a product of society's ill-formed picture of what being gay is all about. Fortunately, they are diminishing at a rapid rate, so quickly in fact that now a majority of Americans believe that same-sex marriage should be legal.

Charles Darwin's conviction that the origin of sexual orientation is one of humanity's deepest secrets, available to no one, is still true.  One thing is for certain, parent--you are not the reason you have a gay child.   If there is a God, and I believe there is, God made us all the way we are.

Here's an excellent Q and A on the subject:

WEDNESDAY: The Bible doesn't condemn your gay child.  Really!


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