5 Reasons to Support a Ban on Ex-Gay Therapy


The California Senate sent the state’s proposed ban on ex-gay therapy for minors to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk on Thursday. Here are five reasons Governor Brown should sign the legislation.

1) Ex-gay therapy treats homosexuality like a disorder — even though it isn’t.

Homosexuality was depathologized by the American Psychiatric Association in 1973. This means that homosexuality in and of itself is no longer considered a mental illness or disorder. Since then, all mainstream medical bodies have moved forward under the understanding that it is anxiety about sexuality and not homosexuality that should be of concern to medical professionals. However, you will often see ex-gay therapy pushers using the phrase “people suffering from Same-Sex Attraction” when referring to their work in trying to “cure” homosexuality. This creates a pathology where there isn’t one and willfully misdiagnoses the real reasons why someone might be unhappy being homosexual: discrimination, whether from secular or, more usually, religious quarters.

2) Ex-gay therapy’s effectiveness has never been proven by mainstream science.

The “Choosing to Change” lie pedaled by ex-gay therapists is a house of cards built mainly on one very flawed study, a 2001 research piece carried out by Doctor Robert Spitzer that was published in the well respected Archives of Sexual Behavior. Spitzer, who was instrumental in the depathologizing of homosexuality, claimed that his study of 200 participants had shown that people really could leave homosexuality behind.

Except the study was deeply flawed. By Dr. Spitzer’s own admission, most recently reiterated earlier this year, the study in fact only proved that the study’s participants, all already involved in sexuality change efforts, reported believing their sexuality had changed. The study also failed to track participants over any length of time to see if this self-reported change was maintained.

Spitzer has recanted his view of the study and apologized to the gay community for the harms he acknowledges the, albeit well-meaning, study may have caused. Even so, groups like NARTH and PFOX continue to this day to maintain that science is on their side, despite there being no independent peer-reviewed material that agrees sexual orientation change is effective. This lack of evidence has even caused leaders of Exodus, one of the most high-profiled ex-gay groups, to drop sexual orientation change efforts in favor of promoting abstinence.

3) Ex-gay therapy is not an appropriate treatment for anxiety over sexuality.

While in a very small number of cases it may be necessary to attempt to reduce a patient’s level of sexual attraction in order to reduce the anxiety they feel over their sexuality, mainstream medical bodies like the American Psychological Association have all made it policy that in no circumstances should homosexuality be treated as a root cause of anxiety. Rather, the focus should be on helping patients overcome the damaging effects of prejudice, discrimination and alienation.

Indeed, the APA writes regarding homosexuality on its website:

Helpful responses of a therapist treating an individual who is troubled about her or his same-sex attractions include helping that person actively cope with social prejudices against homosexuality, successfully resolve issues associated with and resulting from internal conflicts, and actively lead a happy and satisfying life.

Ex-gay therapy has no support among mainstream medical authorities, therefore any therapist offering it as a viable treatment to sexual orientation anxiety or related distress should immediately be suspect.

4) Ex-gay therapy is damaging.

Ex-gay therapy is insidious in its potential psychological harm because it introduces the idea that if you only try hard enough, you can change your sexuality.

Where does that lead someone who cannot overcome their (immutable) sexuality? Documented cases say it leads to depression, substance abuse and an increase in suicidal thoughts. It is, if you like, victim blaming at its most profound. Here’s one man’s story about his experiences with ex-gay therapy:

5) Ex-gay therapy is not a religious or parental right.

Certain Republican lawmakers in the California Assembly this week advanced the argument that sending a minor to ex-gay therapy was a parental right because it is up to parents to pass on their beliefs and morals. This is a line that NARTH and PFOX have used extensively in trying to fight the ex-gay therapy ban. There is a severe lack of logic behind such a statement, however. As shown above, ex-gay therapy is not medically recognized as a viable treatment, it in fact lacks scientific support, it is demonstrably harmful, and it has a negligible success rate — ex-gay therapy on minors, therefore, is a potential harm that equates to little more than child abuse. There is a self-evident overriding government interest in preventing abuse. The religious defense and the parental rights cry both lack sufficient power to curtail that interest.

As such, the bill, even in its watered-down form, remains a critical step in preventing ex-gay therapy harming young people.

Take Action! Tell Governor Brown to sign the ex-gay ban bill.


Related Reading:

Ex-Mormon Felt Suicidal Over Ex-Gay Therapy (VIDEO

Rachel Maddow Takes on Ex-Gay Therapy (VIDEO)

Bachmann Clinic Again Caught Using Gay Cure Therapy

Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to Talk Radio News Service.


Jane H.
Jane H5 years ago

Thank you California!! And thank you SPLC! We must end the fraud! It's OK to be gay!!!

Antonia Maestre
Antonia maestre5 years ago

"Don't like gay marriages? Don't get one. Don't like cigarettes? Don't smoke them. Don't like abortions? Don't get one. Don't like sex? Don't have it. Don't like drugs? Don't do them. Don't like porn? Don't watch it. Don't like alcohol? Don't drink it.. Don't like guns? Don't buy one. Don't like your rights taken away? Don't take away someone else's."

Louis Xurdan
Louis Xurdan5 years ago

The basis of conflating good morality
with sociopathy:

Create demons. Float a false (self-serving)
ideology, or slander an existing reasonable one.


Identify as demons anyone not conforming.

Except for medievel MD/spirit authorities burning
midwives at the stake, women lacked near equality
till recently and it was just men afraid of being
wrongly demonized.

It created the would-be demons within the demonizing
communities, such that the hypocritical ones actually
could serve as having been foreseen, and thus proving
a morality.

1: Virtually all murderers of gays have
proven being gay.
2: History's greatest control freaks have
been gay. Hitler: famously feminine.
JFK's killers: gay fascists.



Otherwise, gays, of course, served the numeric genetic
advantage of the group upon a mother's having already had
enough sons.

The above is also why the demonizer in this particular
witch-hunt will always be a good candidate for gay gene

Pen Name Used

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

You can't fix what isn't broken. "Love the skin you're in"

Wendy Schroeder
Wendy Schroeder5 years ago

I'll give one reason. It hurts people. I have a gay son who didn't come out of the closet until he was about 30! I tried to coax him out and so did my husband. We suspected he was and tried to let him know we thought that it's a normal expression of sexuality. Still, with all the hate in the world I can understand why he was relectant. We didn't know his older brother, my oldest son, threated to "beat him up" if he was gay. Well, I stepped in. Now they get along fine.

Stand up for LGBT rights!

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

Denise is right

Sharon R.
Sharon R5 years ago

From what I've read on the subject, it was political action, not medical, that depathologized homosexuality. Certain activist homosexuals lobbied for it, in other words, because they didn't like being considered sick. However, doctors were not necessarily pushing for the change though now you wouldn't know it because it's considered politically incorrect to discuss the subject.

Also, there is a legitimate section of the homosexual population who find ex-gay therapy helpful. For that reason alone, no one should ban it for any reason.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia5 years ago

Matt B, are you arguing for the sake of arguing? First you were saying being gay was a choice, then you said that it was only about sex, not you changed your stance completely to match what everyone has been say, then added some paranoid rant about freedoms. Yes, I will fight to ban anything that is harmful to people. It's more than I don't like it, its the fact that people are getting hurt. If a chruch teaches homosexuality is a sin, I won't like it but I'm not going to fight to ban churches. However, if a practice is ruining peoples lives and destorying their minds, bodies, spirits (or whatever you want to refer to that esscence as), then yes, it should be banned, whether it's religious based or not.

Linda McKellar
Past Member 5 years ago

Matt, re your 7:33 posting. I don't think anybody is really that obssessive about eliminating things they "don't like". I don't like religion but if it floats someone else's boat I could care less. The same with politics. You tolerate things you don't like in order to keep things civil but a lot of people don't tolerate gays because that conflicts with their religious or social beliefs. When religion & personal opinions thus effect others they become themselves intolerant & that particular aspect should perhaps be eliminated as you put it. As you said, the nation was supposedly built on "freedom & tolerance" & as far as I'm concerned, telling a gay person that is a choice & making them undergo some kind of therapy is intolerance & imposition of your belief & opinion on others.
People make it more of an issue than it needs to be. People are afraid if someone doesn't conform to their way of thinking. Why should anyone care about another person's consensual practices? I don't care about yours if they don't effect me. Let it be. If someone wants therapy, as useless as I feel it is, fine. If it is coerced & makes the person feel guilty or dirty or "sick" then it is WRONG!

Lauren A.
Lauren A5 years ago

It's so sad the damage that ex-gay therapy can do to a person emotionally and spiritually. I definitely support banning the practice.