The Hidden Truth About Changing Sexual Orientation:
Ten Ways Pro-LGBT Sources Undermine the Case for Therapy Bans
Eleven states have enacted legislation to prohibit licensed mental health providers from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), sometimes referred to by critics as “conversion therapy.” Most of this “therapy ban” legislation has cited a 2009 Task Force Report by the American Psychological Association (APA) to discredit SOCE. This report downplays the evidence that SOCE are effective and beneficial, and exaggerates the evidence that they are harmful. However, because of its effort to be (or to appear) comprehensive, the task force report actually makes a number of concessions which undermine the argument for legally restricting SOCE. This paper consists of ten key points which weaken the case for therapy bans. Each of these ten points is backed up by evidence cited from sources which support the acceptance of homosexual relationships and identities (and most of them from the APA’s Task Force Report itself). Rejection of therapy bans would allow the public and social debate about the merits and limitations of SOCE to continue, while at the same time winning a victory for personal freedom for all— including that small population of people who experience same-sex attractions as unwanted, and the therapists willing to help them achieve their own goals.
Maryland recently became the eleventh state1 to enact legislation to prohibit licensed mental health providers from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts (“SOCE;” sometimes referred to by critics as “conversion therapy”) with minors. This paper will refer to such restrictions as “therapy bans.”
The first source cited in the Maryland bill (and most similar laws or bills) is a 2009 Report of the Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, published by the American Psychological Association (APA). This report is critical of SOCE and seeks to discourage clients and therapists from undertaking such therapy.
While numerous other professional organizations have subsequently come out with statements criticizing SOCE, those are virtually all policy statements only (adopted by small committees, not the full membership of those organizations). Any claims about the research on SOCE are generally derived from the 2009 APA Task Force Report.
Much of what is found in the APA’s Task Force Report is highly problematic. The authors display a strong bias in favor of homosexual behaviors and identities, and are clearly biased against those who may consider such behaviors or identities in any way undesirable (for any reason, including health concerns and religious convictions). The report downplays the evidence that SOCE are effective and beneficial, and exaggerates the evidence that they are harmful. However, at no point in this Report does the APA call for legal restrictions to be placed upon SOCE.
In fact, because of its effort to be (or to appear) comprehensive, the task force actually makes a number of concessions which undermine the argument for legally restricting SOCE. Too many people have relied only upon the negative summary statements about SOCE issued by the APA (and bodies purporting to represent other, similar professional organizations), without looking at what the actual research shows (or fails to show).
This paper consists of ten key points (summarized on the next two pages, but then listed individually) which undermine the argument for legal restrictions such as those found in Maryland’s SB 1028, or the even more draconian rules now under consideration in California (AB 2943). Each of these ten points is backed up by evidence cited from sources which support the acceptance of homosexual relationships and identities (and most of them from the APA’s Task Force Report itself).
None of the sources cited here are social conservatives, ex-gays, or therapists who currently engage in SOCE. (All those groups have a valuable contribution to make to this debate and deserve a respectful hearing, but for purposes of this publication I am focusing only on LGBT-affirming sources.) I am including after each point the full quotation from the source with key portions highlighted in italics.
This legislation, on its face, interferes with the freedom of both clients and therapists. Therefore, the burden of proof must rest on those who would engage in such an unprecedented infringement on personal freedom. The evidence required to justify such an invasion of freedom and privacy is simply absent. Opposing legislation that would ban sexual orientation change efforts does not require endorsing their use. In a free society, people are allowed to do many things that others consider unwise, without legal interference by the state.
Rejection of therapy bans would allow the public and social debate about the merits and limitations of SOCE to continue, while at the same time winning a victory for personal freedom for all—including that small population of people who experience same-sex attractions as unwanted, and the therapists willing to help them achieve their own goals.
Summary of the Ten Points
1) Opposition to SOCE is based in part on the belief that people are born gay, probably as a result of a “gay gene” or some other biological factor present at birth.
However, the APA admits that “there is no consensus among scientists” about what causes homosexuality, and that “nurture” may play a role.
2) Opposition to SOCE is based on the belief that sexual orientation is fixed and unchangeable. However, the APA has acknowledged that “for some, sexual orientation identity . . . is fluid or has an
3) Scientific research has clearly shown that the sexual identities of adolescents in particular (the population targeted by most of the proposed therapy bans) are fluid, not fixed.
Two papers by Ritch Savin-Williams of Cornell University, probably the country’s leading expert on sexual minority youth, document that such fluidity is most common among those who at some point have expressed “non-heterosexual” attractions, behaviors, and identities.
4) Opposition to SOCE, especially for children and adolescents, is based on the belief that individuals are generally coerced into undergoing therapy (e.g., by parents).
However, the APA acknowledges that some people, including children and adolescents, may experience “distress” about having same-sex attractions and consider such feelings to be unwanted, without mention of any outside coercion.
5) Most of the therapy bans that have been enacted or proposed are targeted specifically at minor clients. However, the APA acknowledges that there has been virtually no actual research done on sexual
orientation change efforts with children or adolescents.
6) Opposition to SOCE is premised on the belief that it has no benefits for the clients who undertake it.
However, the APA acknowledged, “Some individuals perceived that they had benefited from SOCE . . .”
7) Opposition to SOCE is based on the claim that such efforts are never effective in changing an individual’s sexual orientation.
However, Nicholas A. Cummings, a former president of the American Psychological Association and former chief psychologist for Kaiser Permanente, wrote in USA Today that “of the patients I oversaw who sought to change their orientation, hundreds were successful.”
8) Opposition to SOCE is based on the claim that it is always (or at least usually) harmful to clients. However, the APA admits that there is no “valid causal evidence” that SOCE is harmful.
9) The APA acknowledges that licensed mental health providers (LMHP) should “respect a person’s (client’s) right to self-determination,” allow the client to choose her or his own goals, and “be sensitive to the client’s . . . religion.”
However, therapy bans directly violate this core ethical principle of client self-determination.
10) As noted earlier, legislative restrictions on sexual orientation change efforts with minors are based on
the belief that such therapy always (or usually) occurs as a result of coercion by parents or other adults.
However, the APA has acknowledged that concerns about potential coercion could be mitigated by implementing a system of “developmentally appropriate informed consent to treatment.”
1) No one is “born gay.”
Opposition to SOCE is based in part on the belief that people are born gay, probably as a result of a “gay gene” or some other biological factor present at birth.
However, the APA admits that “there is no consensus among scientists” about what causes homosexuality, and that “nurture” may play a role (emphasis mine):
What causes a person to have a particular sexual orientation?
There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.
“Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality,” American Psychological Association, accessed May 18, 2018, http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/orientation.aspx.
2) Sexual orientation can be fluid.
Opposition to SOCE is based on the belief that sexual orientation is fixed and unchangeable.
However, the APA has acknowledged that “for some, sexual orientation identity . . . is fluid or has an indefinite outcome” (emphasis mine):
• Same-sex sexual attractions and behavior occur in the context of a variety of sexual orientations and sexual orientation identities, and for some, sexual orientation identity (i.e., individual or group membership and affiliation, self-labeling) is fluid or has an indefinite outcome.
Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, August 2009), 2, https://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/therapeutic-response.pdf.
3) Sexual identities of adolescents are even more fluid than those of adults.
Scientific research has clearly shown that the sexual identities of adolescents in particular (the population targeted by most proposed therapy bans) are fluid, not fixed.
Two papers by Ritch Savin-Williams of Cornell University, probably the country’s leading expert on sexual minority youth, document that such fluidity is most common among those who at some point have expressed “non-heterosexual” attractions, behaviors, and identities (emphasis mine):
4)In the data set of the longitudinal Add Health study, of the Wave I boys who indicated that they had exclusive same-sex romantic attraction, only 11% reported exclusive same-sex attraction 1 year later; 48% reported only opposite-sex attraction, 35% reported no attraction to either sex, and 6% reported attraction to both sexes (Udry & Chantala, 2005).
Ritch C. Savin-Williams, “Who’s Gay? Does It Matter?” Current Directions in Psychological Science 15:1 (2006): 42, accessed May 18, 2018, https://www.human.cornell.edu/sites/default/files/HD/sexgender/CurrentDirections.pdf.
Migration over time among sexual orientation components was in both directions, from opposite-sex attraction and behavior to same-sex attraction and behavior and vice versa.
Stability of nonheterosexuality
Although Laumann et al. (1994) expressed doubt about the extent to which nonheterosexual sexual categories, behaviors, and attractions remained stable over time, most investigators presume the stability of sexual orientation and thus assess it at one point in time. This might be a particularly problematic tactic with adolescent and young adult populations, a time in which individuals experiment with their sexuality . . . . Yet, researchers readily acknowledge the existence of such sexual groups (“gay youth”) with little evidence that these individuals will be in the same group a month, a year, or a decade henceforth.
Evidence to support sexual orientation stability among nonheterosexuals is surprisingly meager. . . . Support for the instability of sexual orientation is far more prevalent–in both adult and adolescent populations. Among the 14% of Dutch adult males who reported ever having physical attraction to other males, about half noted that these feelings disappeared later in life (Sandfort, 1997).
Over time, lesbian and bisexual identities lost the most adherents and heterosexual and unlabeled identities gained the most.
Although most (97%) heterosexuals maintained their heterosexual identity, nonheterosexuals frequently changed their identity label over the life course: 39% of gay males, 65% of lesbians, 66% of male bisexuals, and 77% of female bisexuals. The dimensional assessments of fantasy, attraction, and behavior reflected similar trends. Although roughly 90% of heterosexually identified individuals had none or one point changes during their lifetime, the majority of gay (52%), lesbian (80%), and bisexual (90%) identified individuals had multiple changes on the dimensional variables.
Ritch C. Savin-Williams and Geoffrey L. Ream, “Prevalence and Stability of Sexual Orientation Components During Adolescence and Young Adulthood,” Archives of Sexual Behavior 36 (2007): 385-87, accessed May 18, 2018,
https://www .researchgate.net/profile/Geoffrey_Ream/publication/6605886_Prevalence_and_Stability _of_Sexual_Orientation_Components_During_Adolescence_and_Young_Adulthood/links/552532070cf 22e181e73eee1.pdf.
5) Same-sex attractions can be unwanted and cause distress.
Opposition to SOCE, especially for children and adolescents, is based on the belief that individuals are generally coerced into undergoing therapy (e.g., by parents).
6) However, the APA acknowledges that some people, including children and adolescents, may experience “distress” about having same-sex attractions and consider such feelings to be unwanted, without mention of any outside coercion. It cited (emphasis mine):
the following populations: children and adolescents who present with distress regarding their sexual orientation, religious individuals in distress regarding their sexual orientation, and adults who present with desires to their change sexual orientation or have undergone therapy to do so.
On the other hand, APA found no data on parents who seek SOCE for their children:
Research on Parents’ Concerns About Their Children’s Sexual Orientation
We did not find specific research on the characteristics of parents who bring their children to SOCE.
Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, August 2009), 8, 73, https://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/therapeutic-response.pdf.
7) There has been virtually no research on SOCE among children or adolescents.
Although most of the proposed therapy bans have been targeted specifically at minor clients, the APA acknowledges that there has been virtually no actual research done on sexual orientation change efforts with children or adolescents (emphasis mine):
No investigations are of children and adolescents exclusively, although adolescents are included in a very few study samples.
Literature on Children
There is a lack of published research on SOCE among children. Research on sexuality in childhood is limited and seldom includes sexual orientation or sexual orientation identity (Perrin, 2002).
Literature on Adolescents
We found no empirical research on adolescents who request SOCE . . .
Due to the limited research on children, adolescents, and families who seek SOCE, our recommendations for affirmative therapy for children, youth, and their families distressed about sexual orientation are based on general research and clinical articles addressing these and other issues, not on research specific to those who specifically request SOCE. We acknowledge that limitation in our recommendations.
Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, August 2009), 33, 72-73, 76, https://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/therapeutic-response.pdf.
8) Some clients benefit from SOCE.
Opposition to SOCE is premised on the belief that it has no benefits for the clients who undertake it.
However, the APA acknowledged, “Some individuals perceived that they had benefited from SOCE . . .” (emphasis mine):
Former participants in SOCE reported diverse evaluations of their experiences: Some individuals perceived that they had benefited from SOCE, . . . [These] individuals reported that SOCE was helpful—for example, it helped them live in a manner consistent with their faith. Some individuals described finding a sense of community through religious SOCE and valued having others with whom they could identify. These effects are similar to those provided by mutual support groups for a range of problems, and the positive benefits reported by participants in SOCE, such as reduction of isolation, alterations in how problems are viewed, and stress reduction, are consistent with the findings of the general mutual support group literature.
Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, August 2009), 3, https://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/therapeutic-response.pdf.
9) SOCE can be effective.
Opposition to SOCE is based on the claim that such efforts are never effective in changing an individual’s sexual orientation.
Nicholas A. Cummings a former president of the American Psychological Association and former chief psychologist for Kaiser Permanente, declares, “Gays and lesbians have the right to be affirmed in their homosexuality.” However, he also wrote in USA Today that “of the patients I oversaw who sought to change their orientation, hundreds were successful” (emphasis mine):
They generally sought therapy for one of three reasons: to come to grips with their gay identity, to resolve relationship issues or to change their sexual orientation. We would always inform patients in the third group that change was not easily accomplished. With clinical experience, my staff and I learned to assess the probability of change in those who wished to become heterosexual.
Of the roughly 18,000 gay and lesbian patients whom we treated over 25 years through Kaiser, I believe that most had satisfactory outcomes. The majority were able to attain a happier and more stable homosexual lifestyle. Of the patients I oversaw who sought to change their orientation, hundreds were successful.
I believe that our rate of success with reorientation was relatively high because we were selective in recommending therapeutic change efforts only to those who identified themselves as highly motivated and were clinically assessed as having a high probability of success.
Nicholas A. Cummings, “Sexual reorientation therapy not unethical: Column,” USA Today, July 30, 2013, accessed May 18, 2018,
https://www .usatoday .com/story/opinion/2013/07/30/sexual-reorientation-therapy-not-unethical- column/2601159/.
10) There is no proof that SOCE is harmful.
Opposition to SOCE is based on the claim that it is always (or at least usually) harmful to clients.
However, the APA admits that there is no “valid causal evidence” that SOCE is harmful (emphasis mine):
Although the recent studies do not provide valid causal evidence of the efficacy of SOCE or of its harm, some recent studies document that there are people who perceive that they have been harmed through SOCE . . . , just as other recent studies document that there are people who perceive that they have benefited from it . . . .
We conclude that there is a dearth of scientifically sound research on the safety of SOCE. Early and recent research studies provide no clear indication of the prevalence of harmful outcomes among people who have undergone efforts to change their sexual orientation or the frequency of occurrence of harm because no study to date of adequate scientific rigor has been explicitly designed to do so. Thus, we cannot conclude how likely it is that harm will occur from SOCE.
Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, August 2009), 42, https://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/therapeutic-response.pdf.
9) A person’s right to self-determination must be respected.
The APA acknowledges that licensed mental health providers (LMHP) should “respect a person’s (client’s) right to self-determination,” allow the client to choose her or his own goals, and “be sensitive to the client’s . . . religion.”
However, therapy bans directly violate this core ethical principle of client self-determination, by forbidding the LMHP from assisting the client in achieving the client’s own goals, if those goals include changing any aspect of her or his sexual orientation (attractions, behavior, or identity)—even if the change is motivated by the client’s religious convictions (emphasis mine):
Mental health professional organizations call on their members to respect a person’s (client’s) right to self-determination; be sensitive to the client’s race, culture, ethnicity, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, language, and disability status when working with that client; and eliminate biases based on these factors.
“Answers to Your Questions: For a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality,” American Psychological Association, 2008, accessed May 18, 2018, http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/orientation.pdf, 3.
Self-determination is the process by which a person controls or determines the course of her or his own life (Oxford American Dictionary, 2007). LMHP maximize self-determination by (a) providing effective psychotherapy that explores the client’s assumptions and goals, without preconditions on the outcome; (b) providing resources to manage and reduce distress; and (c) permitting the client herself or himself to decide the ultimate goal of how to self-identify and live out her or his sexual orientation.
Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, August 2009), 88, https://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/therapeutic-response.pdf.
11) A system of informed consent should be implemented.
As noted earlier, legislative restrictions on sexual orientation change efforts with minors are based on the belief that such therapy always (or usually) occurs as a result of coercion by parents or other adults.
However, the APA has acknowledged that concerns about potential coercion could be mitigated by implementing a system of “developmentally appropriate informed consent to treatment.” (Presumably, what is referred to as “rights to consent to treatment” includes the positive right to consent to a treatment, and not merely the negative right to refuse a treatment.) Emphasis mine:
ADOLESCENTS’ RIGHTS TO CONSENT TO TREATMENT
In researching involuntary treatment, we reviewed the recent literature on the growing movement to increase adolescents’ rights to consent to outpatient and inpatient mental health treatment so as to reduce involuntary hospitalization (Mutcherson, 2006; Redding, 1993). It is now recognized that adolescents are cognitively able to participate in some health care treatment decisions, and such participation is helpful (Hartman, 2000, 2002; Mutcherson, 2006; Redding, 1993). The APA Guidelines for Psychotherapy for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Clients (2000) and the APA Ethics Code (2002b) encourage professionals to seek the assent of minor clients for treatment. Within the field of adolescent mental health and psychiatry, there are developmental assessment models to determine an adolescent’s competence to assent or consent to and potentially refuse treatment (Forehand & Ciccone, 2004; Redding, 1993; Rosner, 2004a, 2004b). Some states now permit adolescents some rights regarding choosing or refusing inpatient treatment, participating in certain interventions, and control over disclosure of records (Koocher, 2003).
States have different requirements and standards for obtaining informed consent to treatment for adolescents; however, it is recognized that adolescents are cognitively able to participate in some health care treatment decisions and that such participation is helpful. We recommend that when it comes to treatment that purports to have an impact on sexual orientation, LMHP assess the adolescent’s ability to understand treatment options, provide developmentally appropriate informed consent to treatment, and, at a minimum, obtain the youth’s assent to treatment.
Psychotherapy With Children and Adolescents
We were asked to report on the appropriate application of affirmative therapeutic interventions for children and adolescents who present a desire to change either their sexual orientation or the behavioral expression of their sexual orientation, or both, or whose guardian expresses a desire for the minor to change. Consistent with the current scientific evidence, those working with children and adolescents strive to have a developmentally appropriate perspective that includes a client-centered multicultural perspective to reduce self-stigma and mitigate minority stress. This includes interventions that (a) reduce stigma and isolation, (b) support the exploration and development of identity, (c) facilitate achievement of developmental milestones, and (d) respect age-appropriate issues regarding self-determination. Such services are ideally provided in the least restrictive setting and with, at a minimum, the assent of the youth. However, LMHP are encouraged to acquire developmentally appropriate informed consent to treatment.
Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, August 2009), 74, 79, 87, https://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/therapeutic-response.pdf.
Peter Sprigg is a Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.
1 Michael Gryboski, “Maryland Becomes the 11th State to Ban Gay Conversion Therapy for Minors,” The Christian Post, May 15, 2018, accessed May 18, 2018, https://www.christianpost.com/news/maryland-11th-state-ban-gay- conversion-therapy-minors-governor-larry-hogan-224030/.
The Purpose of the Caucus
The 2018 NEA Representative Assembly Caucus Report
This year’s NEA RA was held in Minneapolis, MN, my home state, from June 30- July 5. Greg Quinlan, ex-gay from New Jersey, was our awesome guest all six days. (See Links) Jeralee Smith, NEA Ex-Gay Educators’ Caucus founder and current member was also present for the entire convention. We were able to dialogue with and hand out a lot of scientific, research-based information to interested delegates who visited our exhibit.
Early in the convention, a new delegate enthusiastically came to our booth. She informed me that our NEA Ex-Gay Educators’ Caucus booth was the most important caucus/exhibit there. She proceeded to tell me that she grew up in CA and had been taught and indoctrinated with inaccurate information on sexuality and transgenderism in the public schools. She said that pretty soon she was so confused she didn’t know “who she was, what she was or where she was.” She attributes the confusion in large part to the misinformation she was taught. She stated, “After a long, devastating journey, I had to start reading the Bible to “get my head on straight.” She urged, “Please continue what you are doing in this caucus, so others don’t have to go through the devastation I went through.” This is exactly one of the reasons this caucus exists.
Here are some of the MYTHS being propagated and the scientific, research-based response:
(LINK TO AMERICAN COLLEGE OF PEDIATRICIANS DOCUMENTS)
1. Sexual Orientation and gender dysphoria are fixed, inborn traits, like race.
2. Homosexual attractions and gender dysphoria experienced by minors are enduring.
3. LGBTQ behaviors carry no increased health risks as compared to heterosexual behavior.
4. Scientific research proves that psychotherapy to explore sexual attractions and gender identity (pejoratively dubbed ‘conversion therapy’) is universally harmful.
As a follow-up to last year’s New Business Item which was referred to Committee on the promise that President Eskelsen-Garcia would personally oversee its proceedings: “For the 2018 RA, NEA, will thoroughly review and evaluate RA exhibitors’ materials for information that is offensive, obscene, or in bad taste. Based on the findings of the review the NEA will enforce its standing rules 12.B (b) and 12.B (d) as they relate to exhibitors found in violation of the aforementioned rules. Because of concerns brought by 2017 RA delegates, special scrutiny will be made to the following exhibitors:
1. NEA Ex-Gay Educators
2. Creation Truth Outreach
3. Creation Science Educators”
This year, to NEA’s credit, all of our materials for the 2018 convention were approved as they have been every year. We commend them for their fairness in this free speech, democratic process.
However, there was one major area of concern at this year’s 2018 Convention. NBI #121 was presented which recommended banning therapy.
NBI #121- “Using existing resources, NEA will release a public statement in opposition to conversion therapy, repairative [sic] therapy, reorientation, or any other process to alter a student’s orientation or identity.” President Lily Eskelsen-Garcia was presiding over the debate in which NEA rules call for a fair debate, one for, one against, and so on. She knowingly allowed views against the NBI to be silenced. How did it happen? LGBT activists used lies and coercion by signing up to speak against the ban and then speaking for the ban and taking slots of speech set aside for opposing viewpoints. President Eskelsen Garcia stated that she knew what they were doing and yet allowed silencing of any dissenting viewpoints, of which at least one member had signed up to speak. (Video evidence of the proceedings available upon request.) In reporting convention proceedings to one of the NEA members and union activists in my district in Minnesota, I mentioned this silencing. She stated that actions like these may cause individuals to choose to no longer be a member of NEA. NEA prides itself on being the largest, democratic, deliberative body in the world. Why are they not allowing both sides of an issue to be debated?
This is exactly why this caucus exists- to make change in the NEA to include scientific, research-based information on sexual and transgender issues for the sake and safety of our precious public-school children.
NEA Ex-Gay Educators Chair
The views expressed in this document are those of the caucus. The caucus has no authority to speak for, or act on behalf of, the NEA.
Do Facts Really Matter?
The 2017 NEA Representative Assembly Caucus Report
The 2017 NEA Convention was held in Boston, MA, June 30- July 5. This year’s guests at our caucus booth were amazing: Walt Heyer, former transgender, and his wife, Kaycee; and David Pickup, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Walt Heyer was born a male and at age 42, with the advice of a physician, went through the entire procedure to have sex- reassignment surgery to transition to a woman. As a young child, his grandmother had dressed him up as a girl, and at an early age he was molested by an uncle. Following his transitioning, after eight years of living as a woman, he deeply regretted this decision. He decided to go back to living as his biological sex, a male. He states that when he decided to transition from a man to a woman, he had all the support one could want, but when he decided to transition back to his biological sex, there was no support to be found. He actually was slandered and harassed by many members of the LGBT community who were formerly supportive. Walt knows the personal pain he went through and he has committed his life to helping others in his same position. Because of his brokenness and the hope he found, he is currently helping people in 180 nations who have contacted him with regrets after their sex-reassignment surgery. I would encourage you to read his very compassionate and revealing books: Paper Genders; Gender, Lies and Suicide- A Whistleblower Speaks Out; A Transgender’s Faith.
The other guest to our booth was David Pickup, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist from Dallas, Texas. He came to the NEA at my request to help NEA members understand the terms “conversion therapy” and “reparative therapy” which are terms often used in the NEA. Following is his explanation. “To help clarify each, ‘conversion therapy’, suggests coercion and unethical therapeutic practices and is NOT something licensed, professional therapists support. ‘Conversion Therapy” is not a therapeutic term, but a term dubbed several years ago by LGBT activists. True trained, licensed therapists believe in the individual’s right to autonomy and they help individuals who seek their assistance to write and work toward goals that the client desires and identifies. ‘Reparative therapy’, although the term itself may constitute the idea that someone needs to “be fixed”, in its true meaning, does not mean that LGBT persons are mentally ill and must be fixed. This term refers to the research and anecdotal evidence that indicates homosexual feelings are a reparative drive to get emotional needs met in childhood and become sexualized in puberty. With this meaning, Reparative Therapy is used by a trained, licensed therapist to conduct psychotherapy/talk therapy, to help an individual resolve gender inferiority, and unmet needs in childhood for affection, affirmation and approval. It actually resolves any and all shame clients may feel, and it uses unconditional compassion.” We, as a caucus, believe the individual has a right to choose his or her pathway and deserves the right to choose a trained, licensed therapist who uses talk therapy to help them meet their self-identified goals.
This year was an interesting one for the Ex-Gay Educators Caucus. New Business Item 86 was written by a delegate from Massachusetts to try to remove our exhibit from the convention. The wording stated:
NBI 86- “Be it moved that the NEA implement its own rules and regulations on “Becoming an Exhibitor” to NEA caucuses Ex-Gay Educator and immediately remove the exhibit from the exhibit hall on the grounds that this exhibit violates existing NEA exhibitor standards. These standards state that exhibitors may not distribute materials that are offensive, distracting, or discriminatory.
Rationale/Background- NEA Expo Rules and Regulations Management reserves the right to deny any and all applications. Applicants must adhere to policies on non-discrimination and can be defined as obscene, distracting, and disruptive. This exhibit meets all criteria for an outside exhibitor.
Submitted By: Majority vote at regularly called meeting of the state (Massachusetts) delegation in connection with the annual meeting.”
When the item came to a vote, the NEA President, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, stated that NBI 86 would most likely be ruled Out of Order. In the meantime, it was decided that New Business Item 154 be combined with NBI 86 to form the following New Business Item
“For the 2018 RA, NEA, will thoroughly review and evaluate RA exhibitors’ materials for information that is offensive, obscene, or in bad taste. Based on the findings of the review the NEA will enforce its standing rules 12.B (b) and 12.B (d) as they relate to exhibitors found in violation of the aforementioned rules. Because of concerns brought by 2017 RA delegates, special scrutiny will be made to the following exhibitors:
1. NEA Ex-Gay Educators
2. Creation Truth Outreach
3. Creation Science Educators”
After discussion (which included inaccurate information against our caucus), on the promise that President Eskelsen-Garcia would personally oversee its implementation, the delegation voted to refer this new business item to the Annual Meeting Review Committee.
As you may have noticed, the title of this report is, “Do Facts Really Matter?”. The NEA Ex-Gay Educators Caucus has been in existence for 13 years. We have followed all NEA rules including getting all our materials approved by NEA each year. Our purpose has never been to tell people what to do, but to offer research, science-based materials that can provide understanding and facts on these very emotional topics. Each year we invite experts in the field to come and have dialogue with interested delegates who stop by our booth. In the past our guests have included numerous ex-gays, pediatricians/health professionals, and researchers. We have always welcomed all viewpoints to stop at our booth and engage in respectful dialogue.
I wish facts would matter. Before accusing, let’s be open-minded enough to check out the information and prove for ourselves whether it’s accurate or not. Let’s read the materials carefully so we aren’t falsely accusing, like the delegate who held up the American College of Pediatricians document we handed out at our booth entitled, ”ACPeds, AAPS, CMDA, and CMA Support Minors’ Right to Therapy” and stated that The American College of Pediatricians supported “conversion therapy” when, in fact, the College does not support it. The document actually stated, that in an attempt to ban so-called “conversion therapy,” legislatures are banning ethical talk therapy. The College believes that therapy for minors with unwanted same-sex attractions and/or gender dysphoria must NOT be banned. The state must not violate minors’ right to seek psychotherapy they believe may aid them, and must not restrict the right of licensed professional counselors to provide this ethical care. I would encourage you to read the accompanying science and researched documents put out by the College of Pediatricians (www.Best4Children.org) on these very important topics.
I have found that sometimes those who claim to be the most tolerant are the ones forcing their views on others or silencing those who hold a different viewpoint no matter if they have facts or not. I believe all of us could only wish for respect and fairness, which is something I could only hope the NEA stands for.
Susan Halvorson, Caucus Chair
The views expressed in this document are those of the caucus. The caucus has no authority to speak for, or act on behalf of, the NEA.
The NEA Representative Assembly met in Washington, DC, July 2- 7, 2016. This year we were able to have our caucus exhibit booth all six days, rather than our usual two days.
Caucus booth special guests included the following experts (See previous posts or links to see some of their important studies and information):
D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D. Department of Sociology, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
Just released study, “Invisible Victims: Delayed Onset Depression among Adults with Same-Sex Parents” https://www.hindawi.com/journals/drt/2016/2410392/
Judith A. Reisman, Ph.D. Internationally renowned expert on Dr. Alfred Kinsey, from the Kinsey Institute- Indiana University and his fraudulent sex studies and publications which have affected our nation’s laws and sex education programs. Dr. Reisman has testified before the US Congress, high-level commissions, and the US Supreme Court. Please read her book, Stolen Honor, Stolen Innocence. She explains how the work of Dr. Alfred Kinsey during the 1940s and 1950s contributed to our current sexual practices and beliefs. It was later found that his “sex experiments” were fradulent. Dr. Reisman also uncovered the shocking fact some of the “sex experiments” were even performed on children as young as two months old. This book helps us understand some of our beliefs today on the topic of sexual orientation and sexual beliefs and practices and how they have caused harm.
Dr. Bill Shaw, American College of Pediatricians– visit their website for helpful information related to child health issues.
Peter Sprigg- VP for Policy at the Family Research Council, Washington, DC.
Documents:”Homosexuality in Your Child’s School,”http://www.frc.org/content/homosexuality-in-your-childs-school-4 (click the download pdf in order to read the brochure); “Debating Homosexuality-Understanding Two Views,” (see Quick Links in the right-hand column for a link to this information); “The Transgender Movement and Gender Identity in the Law,” (see Quick Links in the right-hand column for a link to this information); “Title IX and Transgendered Students,” (see Quick Links in the right-hand column for a link to this information).
Dave- an ex-gay shared his story on coming out of homosexuality.
Many interested people stopped by our booth to discuss and gather information. Since transgender is such a topic of consideration, we gave out 100 books, Paper Genders and Gender, Lies and Suicide, written by Walt Heyer, a man who transitioned to being a woman and deeply regretted it. I would encourage you to read his books. They really helped open up my understanding on this very sensitive topic.
NEA Ex-Gay Educators’ Caucus Chair
The views expressed in this document are those of the caucus. The caucus has no authority to speak for, or act on behalf of, the NEA.
Dave was a special guest at the 2016 NEA Ex-Gay Educators’Caucus booth. The following is his testimony:
My Three Dads
This is a story about my three dads. For most of my life, I felt as if I didn’t have a dad at all. Now, I realize that God has provided father-figures all along, including Himself. Let me tell you a little about them and about me…
In the 60’s an unwanted pregnancy was looked upon with much scorn and shame. So I came into this world feeling rejection from mom, dad, grandparents, the rest of my family and society. Many say that I was an illegitimate child, but now I know that there is no such thing–only illegitimate parents.
My biological father, Ray, never married my mom. Despite many efforts to meet him, Ray chose to shut me out of his life for 46 years. In the fall of 2010, I decided to try, once again, to reach out to him. So, I sent him this testimony. A week later, there was a strong prompting to pray for him, and I did for three days. A month later, he called me and we talked for two hours. I told him that I didn’t want anything from him—just offering the gift of resolution. I felt that he may have been stuffing emotions of guilt and shame for decades. I said that if I were him, I couldn’t live with the fact that I knew I had a son somewhere but didn’t know if he was dead or alive; a good person or a criminal. Nor, would I know what my son loved and hated, or even what he looked like. I told Ray I’d like to meet him and my biological family–but would wait until he was ready. For two years we talked on the phone. Then, in 2012, I went to Minneapolis for a conference and he finally agreed to meet with me. So, at age 48, I got to see my biological father for the first time when we talked for three hours at a restaurant. Ray stated that he didn’t believe I was his son, even though he had paid child support for 22 years. I think this was a self-protection mechanism to justify his actions in rejecting me. After we met, someone told me that he said that we really didn’t connect—but I think that he really didn’t want to connect with me. As a result, of this long-anticipated meeting, I left with a sense of resolution, but also disappointment. Since then, we talked on the phone a number of times, but little came of it. Ray died in 2014 of Leukemia.
My step-dad/adoptive father, Walter, married my mother when I was six months old. He was a Vietnam veteran who experienced the horrors of war. Walter suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and health issues as a result of the war. He used alcohol to self-medicate his emotional and physical pain. And, his violent rages caused a lot of trauma for me as a child. I’ll never forget calling the police when he pulled a knife on my mom. Or, the time he pried the hinges off the bathroom door to get at her.
The effects of growing up as a child of an alcoholic have been many. I tended to overreact to changes I couldn’t control, I had difficulty having fun because I took myself too seriously, I constantly sought approval, I felt different, and I was extremely loyal—even in unhealthy relationships, I also had difficulty finishing projects and I struggled with intimate relationships. Some of these things I still deal with daily.
I felt Walter favored my younger brother, his namesake. Only recently, have I realized this was a misperception on my part. Because my parents divorced when I was young, I never had a dad to play catch with, or to run to when I was afraid. Boys need three things from their fathers—affirmation, attention and affection. I didn’t get any of that from him. As a result, bitterness set in, and for over 20 years, I had nothing to do with my stepfather. Gradually, as I grew to know the Lord, I was able to forgive him and begin a relationship with him and my brother. Now we don’t see each other without an “I love you” and a hug. That forgiveness allowed me to help reconcile my sister with him as well. What a blessing it was to be able to take my nine-year-old nephew to see his grandfather for the first time! Now my family has been restored.
For many years I prayed about my dad’s alcoholism. In 2009, he went to a treatment center and then Alcoholic Anonymous meetings and he has been sober ever since. He even visits other veterans who are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism. I’m so proud of him.
A few years ago, I learned that he had always wanted to adopt me but my mom wouldn’t let him. This caused a lot of friction in their marriage. After waiting many years for him to initiate the adoption discussion, I decided to bring it up. This, I thought, was a way to publicly acknowledge the healing that had taken place in our relationship. So, on April 18, 2011, I was formally adopted at age 48 in a courthouse in Columbus, Ohio.
My mom was a very kind and compassionate woman who became a nurse in order to help others. Throughout her whole life, she was plagued with mental illness, with severe depressions and then bouts of mania. As a result, she was irresponsible and unpredictable in her love. Sometimes she wouldn’t communicate for long periods of time, and then she would be very involved in my life. This fed my sense of rejection and caused instability in my life.
Stability came from my grandmother who lived two blocks away. This strong-willed, kind and extremely generous woman not only raised me, but also provided for me financially and emotionally. In school, I became painfully shy and reclusive. Allergies and asthma kept me from gym class and sports. When teams were chosen, I was always picked last. I felt rejection, and I also rejected myself with feelings of low self-esteem and self-hatred.
Finally, someone really paid attention to me. He was an older second cousin who sexually molested me at age 12. I kept this dark shame a secret, for 13 years, telling no one until I was 25. This, and other factors, opened the door to homosexual attraction.
At the insistence of my devout grandmother, I was active in a lifeless mainline church. At age 15, I accepted Christ as my savior during an evangelistic seminar. While still attending the same church, I started to grow spiritually, on my own, by reading Christian books and listening to Christian radio. When it came time for college, I was blessed to attend a bible-believing Christian school. There, I grew relationally with others and began my journey out of shyness. My family couldn’t afford a private college for me, but God miraculously provided with a campus job and financial aid.
After graduation, I headed to Washington, DC to pursue a career in politics and began attending a vibrant church, where I was baptized. Becoming more aware of homosexual feelings, I got involved in Regeneration which ministers to those with unwanted same-sex attractions. My life was finally starting to click. I become a support group leader and began a serious dating relationship with a girl named Karen. I began to trust God, not only as my Savior, but also as Lord of my life. I was having a fantastic relationship with Him, myself and others and I was on top of the world.
Then, my world came crashing down. It seemed that every summer I was plagued by a persistent and deepening depression. That year, it became so intense that I experienced panic attacks and even began hallucinating. I lost my job, my girlfriend, and the peace I felt from God. I remember crying out to God but I felt the heavens were silent. Under the care of an incompetent counselor and doctor, I plunged into a suicidal depression and became obsessed with dying and going straight to hell.
Then, I found a new Christian counselor who rescued me with medication and therapy. However, my deep depression was followed by an equally unrestrained manic phase. I started many businesses, had grandiose ideas, and plunged head-first into the gay lifestyle.
My life became filled with anonymous sexual partners and hanging out at gay bars, beaches and bathhouses. I decided to seek acceptance from those I thought could relate to me best—other gays. However, more rejection, not acceptance, was what I felt the most. I was rejected by those who were more muscular, handsome and self-assured than I. And, I rejected those who didn’t measure up in my eyes. I allowed myself to be treated in ways I would never otherwise allow. And, treated others in ways I would never otherwise treat them. For seven years, I became the prodigal son with my “to hell with the world” attitude.
I didn’t choose to have homosexual feelings. My research and experience has shown the development of my same-sex attraction was rooted in a number of factors: an absent father, abusive stepfather, strong-willed grandmother, passive grandfather, sensitive personality and sexual abuse. These were things that happened to me. However, there were things that I did to contribute to my problem. I chose how to respond to what happened in my childhood, to act on my same-sex attractions and discount the power of God’s grace in my life. This choice to pursue the gay lifestyle not only endangered my physical life, but also my relational, emotional and spiritual life. It also led to a life-dominating sexual addiction that would take years of pain and struggle to overcome.
My Heavenly Father, Abba
Father God lovingly, and persistently, pursued me. And, in 2000, I started on my journey back home, just like the prodigal son did. I returned to Regeneration and began to deal with my overwhelming sexual addiction, as well as the roots of my same-sex attraction. I became accountable to a ministry leader and began attending and serving in a local church. I was also able to forgive my step-dad, mother and the cousin who molested me.
My journey to wholeness and holiness has not been quick or painless. Many times I stumbled along the way (and I still stumble!), but Father God has always been present. I let go of quick, fleeting counterfeit “love” (lust and sex) and slowly developed true and lasting love through deep meaningful relationships with others and God. Of all my fathers, Father God has been the most faithful and consistent.
He is a father to the fatherless… (and, He is a father to those who were fathered less!) Psalm 68:5
He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow. Deuteronomy 10:18
The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. Psalm 10:14
The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow. Psalm 146:9
He also made them objects of compassion in the presence of all their captors. Psalm 106:46
And I will be a Father to you and you shall be sons and daughters to me. 2 Corinthians 6:8
Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God. 1 John 3:1
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. Ps. 103:11
For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but my lovingkindness will not be removed from you. Isaiah 54:10
I have loved you with an everlasting love. Therefore, I have drawn you with lovingkindness. Again, I will build you and you shall be rebuilt. Jer. 31:3
Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget but I will not forget you. Behold I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands. Your walls are continually before me. Isaiah 49:14-16
Even though I have a biological father and an adopted father, I know that my true father is the “Father to the Fatherless”. I have come to know what it means to have God as my father. Growing up without a healthy father figure hindered my growth into masculinity. Abba Father is continually healing many of these deficits. He has shown Himself as a strong provider, protector and caring dad, who adores me whether I perform or not. As I learn to be loved by Him, I am growing into the man He wants me to be. As Abba lavishly meets my needs for love and acceptance, I am able to love Him and others correctly and abundantly. My desire is that all of my holiness, giving, serving, loving and sharing flows from this supply of limitless love and acceptance, for I am beloved. I have learned to rely on God when I could rely on no one else. He has shown me, through promises in His Word and through my experiences with Him, that He is faithful. As I step out in faith, trusting His promises, I have seen that He will encourage me, equip me, protect me, provide for me, and bless my efforts.
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, not adulterers, nor those who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you, but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9
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