The Damaging Practice of Conversion or Reparative Therapy

Rather than resolving conflicts, reparative therapy programs create new ones by falsely promising gay people who are unhappy with their sexual orientation that they can become heterosexual. When gay men and women find that they can’t change, they end up with feelings of guilt and failure that lead to depression, loss of friends and social support, addictive behaviors, and substance abuse. – CRISIS – 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America

Reparative Therapy is a serious matter.

The practice has caused much physical and emotional damage to LGBT people by organizations who wrongfully say they can cure homosexuality.

Too often, young people are forced to undergo Conversion Therapy by parents and ministers who refuse to accept that they are gay. Parents need to understand that being gay is ok and that their child was created this way in God’s eyes. While some religions wrongfully condemn homosexuality, many embrace it and believe it is part of God’s natural order.

Parents also need to understand that you can’t change a person’s sexuality by forcing them to go through the damaging practice of conversion or reparative therapy. And understand the serious emotional and psychological damage they will cause their son or daughter if they put them through this process.

Who You Are is a Great Thing

Being gay is a great thing – don’t let anyone tell you differently. Gay people lead normal, happy and productive lives and you can too. Do not let anyone tell you that because you are gay, you are a sinner or immoral. You are not.

Some will describe being gay as a lifestyle choice. They are wrong. Homosexuality is no more a choice than heterosexuality is. The argument that being gay is a lifestyle choice creates a false hope in the minds of parents that their child’s sexual orientation can change.

It also creates a feeling amongst gay youth and adults who feel they must try to change their sexual orientation to be accepted by family, friends and society.

Don’t let them tell you that sexuality is a choice.

One of the central claims made in defense of religion-based bigotry is that sexuality is a choice – a choice that can be changed with prayer and professional guidance. This mistaken belief has lead to the creation of this disturbing practice. Conversion or reparative therapy promotes the myth that a same-sex attraction can be lessened or cured.

Extremist groups such as Exodus International and Love in Action prey on the insecurity and self-hate created in the minds of LGBT people by religion-based bigotry. These groups promise to lead people out of the “darkness” of homosexuality.

Every reputable health organization in the country condemns conversion or reparative therapy, including the American Psychological and Psychiatric Associations, the American Medical Association, and the National Organization of Social Workers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychoanalytic Association.

Below you will find statements from these organizations on why these therapies do not work and why they cause great harm:

American Academy of Pediatrics (1993)
“Therapy directed specifically at changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.”

American Medical Association (2003)
“Our AMA opposes the use of ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy that is based on the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.”

American Psychoanalytic Association (2000)
“Psychoanalytic technique does not encompass purposeful efforts to ‘convert’ or ‘repair’ an individual’s sexual orientation. Such directed efforts are against fundamental principles of psychoanalytic treatment and often result in substantial psychological pain by reinforcing damaging internalized homophobic attitudes.”

American Psychiatric Association (1998)
“The American Psychiatric Association opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as reparative or conversion therapy, which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the priori assumption that a patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation.” The APA removed homosexuality from its list of disorders in 1973.

American Psychological Association (1997)
“No scientific evidence exists to support the effectiveness of any of the conversion therapies that try to change sexual orientation.” The association removed homosexuality from its list of disorders in 1975.

National Association of Social Workers (2000)
“People seek mental health services for many reasons. Accordingly, it is fair to assert that lesbians and gay men seek therapy for the same reasons that heterosexual people do. However, the increase in media campaigns, often coupled with coercive messages from family and community members, has created an environment in which lesbians and gay men often are pressured to seek reparative or conversion therapies, which cannot and will not change sexual orientation. Aligned with the American Psychological Association’s (1997) position, NCLGB believes that such treatment potentially can lead to severe emotional damage. Specifically, transformational ministries are fueled by stigmatization of lesbians and gay men, which in turn produces the social climate that pressures some people to seek change in sexual orientation. No data demonstrate that reparative or conversion therapies are effective, and in fact they may be harmful.

Continue reading about the following:

Gay Exorcism

Stories of Harm

“Ex Ex-gay”

Additional Resources