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Beliefs and statements about homosexual orientation

One more obstacle preventing study.
Implications from a lack of consensus.

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This is a continuation of a previous essay

One further obstacle preventing accurate studies of sexual orientation:

bulletDelusion: Studies have been made to determine the success rate of conversion counseling - therapy designed to convert homosexuals into heterosexuals. Success rates of 30% to 50% have been claimed by therapist in various Christian ministries. But these are rarely backed up with hard data. No long term studies have ever been reported upon. No studies at all in peer-reviewed journals have been published. Unfortunately, psychologists, psychiatrists and other therapists and counselors have a very poor track record in assessing their clients:
bulletTherapists who used recovered memory therapy generally report that their clients improve during therapy. Studies of suicide rate, psychiatric hospital admissions, marriage breakup, unemployment rate show the opposite.
bulletTherapists engaged in multiple personality disorder treatment (a.k.a. dissociative identity disorder) report that the bulk of their clients develop multiple personalities. But objective studies show that these "alter" personalities eventually disappear after the therapy ends. Also, these alters do not seem to be present in nature; they only develop in a therapist's office.
bulletProfessionals who believe in Satanic ritual abuse find that the vast majority of their clients recover memory of childhood Satanic ritual abuse. So too with therapists who believe that emotional problems in adults are caused by abuse in former lifetimes, or abuse on board UFOs.
bulletTherapeutic touch therapists are convinced that they can heal people by balancing energy patterns in their patient's bodies. But a simple science fair project by a public school student showed that TT therapists cannot detect body energy fields, let alone balance them.
bulletMany professionals who use facilitated communication are convinced that it enables severely autistic individuals to communicate via computer. But dozens of studies have shown that, except for a small minority of children, all of the "communicating" comes from the facilitator and not the person with autism.

The ability of therapists to delude themselves is immense. Study results too often reflect the researcher's beliefs rather than any cold reality. Probably the only studies of homosexuality that have a chance of being reliable would be those in which the researchers hold diverse opinions on the nature of sexual orientation. Unfortunately, to our knowledge, such studies have never been made.

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Implications of a lack of consensus among therapeutic and religious professionals:

Although the vast majority of therapists and researchers in North America believe that sexual orientation in adults is almost or always unchangeable, a minority supports the opposite view and believe that conversion or reparative therapy is effective.

There are probably about 8 million adults in North America who identify themselves as homosexuals, and who agree with the majority position of therapists. Most therapists counsel their clients to improve their self esteem and accept their orientation as a fact of their lives. But what if most professionals are wrong? What if a "reparative therapy" technique is available that will convert a significant number of gays and lesbians to heterosexuality? Many would seek such therapy in order to avoid the lack of physical, employment and accommodation security that gays and lesbians face because of public homophobia. But if that form of counseling is ineffective, then their hopes might be needlessly raised only to be eventually destroyed. The backlash sometimes triggers suicide. The need for accurate information on the long term results of reparative therapy is obviously of great importance.

There are probably about 70 million conservative Christians in North America who believe that homosexuality and bisexuality are chosen preferences; that these orientations they are unnatural, and can be changed through prayer and/or reparative counseling. Their pastors and denominations generally teach that homosexual behavior is hated by God, excludes a person from Heaven, and is a very serious sin. If they believe that a person's sexual orientation is chosen during teenage years, then their natural inclination would be to:

bulletEliminate gay and lesbian teachers from the school system,
bulletBan homosexual support groups in the high school,
bulletWork to eliminate any mention of homosexuality in the school curriculum,
bulletMinimize any positive or accurate portrayal of gays and lesbians in the media,
bulletKeep the age of consent for homosexual activity higher than that of heterosexual activity,
bulletAllow discrimination against gays and lesbians in employment and accommodation, in order to make it a less attractive choice,
bulletRetain laws that criminalize homosexual behavior, and
bulletFight against equal rights for gays and lesbians including the rights to marry and adopt children

But if their beliefs are not based on reality, then they are wasting major effort to discriminate against gays and lesbians for no justifiable reason. Further, they are causing needless pain to lesbians, gays and bisexuals. If sexual orientation is pre-determined rather than chosen, then gays will become gays no matter what the level of discrimination in society. One might as well discriminate against people with black skin or blue eyes.

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Copyright © 1998 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 1998-FEB-5
Latest update: 2009-NOV-04
Author: B.A. Robinson

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