ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT NARTH & HOMOSEXUALITY
This section of the NARTH website is provided for the lay public or readers wanting a basic overview of NARTH's views on a range of topics. Most of these issues are detailed more completely elsewhere on the website with professional citations provided.
1. Is homosexuality essentially genetically or biologically determined?
No. Attempts to demonstrate that homosexuality is simply a matter of genes or biology have been unsuccessful. For example, among identical twins, if one twin identifies as gay, only about one in nine twin siblings will also identify as gay (Bailey, Dunne, & Martin, 2000). Although some in the media have used various studies to attempt to support a simple genetic or biological theory, the authors of these research articles have refuted these overreaching claims. Regarding homosexuality, there are simply no variables that are by themselves exclusively predictive of the development of homosexual feelings. On this point, NARTH agrees with the American Psychological Association (2008) statement that, "…no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors" for a given person.
Practice Guidelines # 1. http://narth.com/2011/12/narth-practice-guidelines/
APA's New Pamphlet on Homosexuality De-emphasizes the Biological Argument, Supports a Client's Right to Self-Determination, http://www.narth.com/docs/deemphasizes.html
Journal of Human Sexuality Vol. 3: Neil E. Whitehead, Neither Genes nor Choice: Same-Sex Attraction Is Mostly a Unique Reaction to Environmental Factors, pp. 82-114.
Neil E. Whitehead, Sociological Studies Show Social Factors Produce Adult SSA, pp. 115-136.
2. Can change occur in a person's sexual orientation?
Yes. Some individuals can and do change. Spontaneous change is common and sexual orientation evidences significant fluidity over time, typically towards a heterosexual orientation. For example, exclusive opposite-sex attraction is approximately 17 times more stable than exclusive same-sex attraction for men and 30 times more stable than exclusive same-sex attraction for women (Whitehead & Whitehead, 2011). In addition, many individuals have reported therapy-assisted change in their sexual orientation, across a continuum of change that is not limited simply to identity labeling. Others have reported lesser success, but still experienced reduced attractions and chose to live in a heterosexual relationship or to be celibate. As is the case with all forms of psychological care, some individuals report a lack of change. While some people relapse, there are testimonies of persons who have maintained their changes for several decades. The fact that change is not always categorical and is experienced across a continuum is much the same as with any other human problem or condition.
Journal of Human Sexuality Vol.(1) (pages 1- 39).
NARTH Statement on Sexual Orientation Change: http://narth.com/2012/01/narth-statement-on-sexual-orientation-change/
3. What does research reveal about homosexual parenting?
Significant robust research seems clear; mothers and fathers contribute in complementary ways to the health and development of children. Regarding parenting, the psychological science also appears clear: all factors considered, children do better in a home where there is a mother and a father. Although some organizations have taken strong political stands on this issue, attempting to equate same-sex parenting households with traditional families, research does not bear this out. A recent study by Mark Regnerus (Regnerus, 2012) suggested that children of homosexual parents may be significantly more vulnerable to a number of problems than children of opposite-sex parents. His study was attacked by gay-rights advocates, but after he was challenged by them, his university concluded that there was "no evidence of scientific misconduct." Long term effects on children in homes of homosexual parents are largely unknown. We believe that statements equating same-sex parenting with traditional parenting are not empirically warranted (Marks, 2012) and put the cart of political activism ahead of the horse of science.
Journal of Human Sexuality 2: A. Dean Byrd, Dual-Gender Parenting for Optimal Child Development, pp. 104-123.
Journal of Human Sexuality 3: A. Dean Byrd, Homosexual Couples and Parenting: What Science Can and Cannot Say, pp. 4-34.
Mark Regnerus, "How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study," Social Science Research Vol 41, Issue 4 (July 2012), pp. 752-770; online at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0049089X12000610
Walter R. Schumm, Child Outcomes Associated with Lesbian Parenting: Comments on Biblarz and Stacey's 2010 Report, pp. 35-80.
4. What is the ethical basis for offering change options to people with unwanted homosexual attractions?
NARTH promotes self-determination, individual liberty, and the right to respond to one's own moral conscience; these are the hallmarks and fundamentals of our modern democratic societies. NARTH has advocated self-determination as a primary value in all of our policies. We are focused on the right of persons to deal with unwanted sexual attractions as well as the right of therapists to offer psychological care to those who wish to deal with these attractions by diminishing or eliminating them rather than just identifying with and acting upon them. We acknowledge and respect the right of individuals to claim a gay identity. People have various personal, interpersonal, health, religious, and other reasons for wanting to pursue change in their unwanted same-sex attractions and behaviors. They have every right to have their values respected.
NARTH Practice Guideline # 4, http://narth.com/2011/12/narth-practice-guidelines/
5. Is NARTH a religious organization?
No. It is a scientific and professional organization that includes highly qualified academics and fully licensed mental health professionals. Any number of organizations and individuals including religious organizations may use our knowledge base and professional training and presentations. NARTH affirms the right of religious belief and diversity for clients as well as therapists. Respect for religious diversity requires that mental health professionals give as much weight to religious belief as to sexual identity in offering ethical therapeutic services. Some critics have falsely accused NARTH of simplistic attempts to promote change, such as "praying away the gay." This reflects a lack of understanding of the therapeutic relationship as well as a lack of understanding of change. Sometimes people who lack understanding feel it is an easy matter to make changes in homosexual orientation, when it almost always requires high motivation and effort – as with changing many other aspects of life. However, the spiritual motivation and experiences of a given individual as well as religious organizational support can be a very important component in assisting people with their change process.
NARTH Practice Guideline # 3, http://narth.com/2011/12/narth-practice-guidelines/
6. Does professional sexual orientation change therapy harm people?
There is no reliable scientific evidence that it does. Some persons who were unsuccessful at change therapy have indicated that it harmed them; others who underwent the therapy and were unsuccessful felt it actually was helpful in determining what direction they would take. The term "harm" in this context, however, has not been well defined. It has at times been politicized in the media, primarily relying on testimonials rather than legitimate evidence. NARTH encourages therapists to use NARTH's Practice Guidelines, which include informed consent and acknowledgement from the outset that results will vary. This is really no different than what occurs with other forms of psychological care. People treated for many conditions may be unsuccessful, have relapses, require differing interventions, or decide to discontinue treatment altogether. The ethical principles of autonomy and self-determination lack meaning unless they also apply to individuals who pursue psychological care for unwanted homosexual attractions. Most mental health associations affirm these values in their ethical guidelines as well. Additionally, there are many individuals who have reported that this type of therapy has provided significant positive benefits in their lives.
Journal of Human Sexuality Vol. 1, Section 2, pp. 41-52.
NARTH Practice Guidelines # 6, http://narth.com/2011/12/narth-practice-guidelines/
Sexual Orientation Change Efforts Do Not Lead to Increased Suicide Attempts http://narth.com/2011/08/sexual-orientation-change-efforts-do-not-lead-to-increased-suicide-attempts/.
7. Is NARTH an anti-gay hate group?
Absolutely not. We affirm the right of individuals to claim a gay identity. Our clinical members specialize in assisting persons with unwanted same-sex attractions as they pursue change. Some of our members have been homosexual themselves. While we have been a target of gay activism at times, we reject any notion that we foment hate or disparagement of gay-identified individuals. On the contrary, we respect a homosexual person's freedom to pursue the path they choose, whether that means embracing a gay identity or seeking change of sexual orientation. Charges of "hate" appear aimed to demonize and silence viewpoints that deviate from those of the activists, and this is significantly hindering the advancement of science in this area.
8. What is NARTH's stance on bullying?
NARTH joins with other organizations and individuals in condemning bullying for any reason in our schools and elsewhere. However, we also believe that students and parents should not be pressured to affirm homosexual identity during the fluid childhood and adolescent developmental periods. It is irresponsible to equate the adolescent experience of same-sex attractions as indicative of a gay, lesbian, or bisexual identity when sexual orientation is so highly fluid among these youth, and most will eventually move towards heterosexuality (Savin-Williams & Ream, 2007). In addition, studies such as Remafedi, et al. (1991) suggest that it is prudent to discourage early sexual experience and self-labeling of sexual orientation.
Bullying at School: never acceptable: http: // factsaboutyouth.com/posts/bullying-at-school-never-acceptable/
9. Does NARTH advocate the use of aversion or shock therapy?
No. NARTH advocates the use of standard therapies. We do not advocate the use of shock therapy, aversion therapy, holding therapies or any other intervention that has demonstrated potential for harm. Aversion and shock therapies were widely applied to diverse clinical problems in the 1960s and 1970s, and have not been applied to homosexuality since the early 1980s. This accusation is therefore so reckless that it should bring into question the motives of those who advance it.
Facts and Myths on Early Aversion Techniques in the Treatment of Unwanted Homosexual Attractions: http://narth.com/2011/05/facts-and-myths-on-early-aversion-techniques-in-the-treatment-of-unwanted-homosexual-attractions/
10. Why is NARTH so opposed by some gay activists?
We can only speculate. However, it seems to us that it relates to activists' desire to make the designation of LBGT conflate with the status of other minority groups. If their orientation is not viewed as immutable or absolute, then the question arises if it should be equally conflated with race, sex, etc. NARTH's activities are apparently seen as a threat to the "immutability" argument. Anyone following these issues in the media will see the term "immutable" repeated often. In addition, some may oppose us because they dispute our general view of same-sex attractions as a developmental adaptation.
Misinformation Rampant in the Mental Health Field: http://narth.com/2012/05/misinformation-rampant-in-the-mental-health-field/
11. Are there increased psychological and physical health risks associated with homosexual behavior?
Yes. While some statements have been made claiming health equivalency between homosexual and heterosexual populations, the facts are that individuals who engage in homosexual behavior have a significantly greater risk for some physical and psychological health problems compared to heterosexually oriented individuals. For example, there is a 1.4% per-act probability of HIV transmission for anal sex and a 40.4% per-partner probability (Beyrer, et al., 2012). This is roughly 18 times greater than the estimated risk for vaginal intercourse. Regarding elevated psychiatric risk, the stress of sexual-minority status appears to play a role, but other factors that are rarely if ever studied (e.g., perceptual and coping styles of homosexually oriented persons, and their manner of responding to loss of a romantic relationship) may also play a role in homosexuality. Support for this reasoning is found in the fact that sexual minorities in The Netherlands also show an elevated level of psychiatric problems (e.g., anxiety, depression, suicidality), despite the fact that The Netherlands is a country that prides itself on being welcoming to homosexuals and has widely expanded the scope of gay rights (de Graaf, Sandfort, & ten Have, 2006; Sandfort, et al., 2001).
Journal of Human Sexuality, Vol. 1.
Journal of Human Sexuality, Vol. 2. Neil E.Whitehead, "Homosexuality and Co-Morbidities: Research and Therapeutic Implications," pp. 124-175
Health Risks: Fisting and other Homosexual Practices, http://narth.com/2010/11/health-risks-fisting-and-other-homosexual-practices-2/
12. Does NARTH offer therapeutic services?
Not directly. However, our membership includes clinicians throughout the world who do offer therapeutic services in their own professional settings. NARTH has developed practice guidelines to aid in the delivery of such services (NARTH, 2010). We also review and disseminate scientific information for use by therapists, researchers and policy makers. NARTH members work in a variety of private and public clinics, hospitals, universities, and other institutions.
13. I heard that Sexual orientation change was discredited by the American Psychological Association? What about the 2009 APA task force on Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE)?
This task force was formed to provide guidance to psychologists working with individuals who seek SOCE by reviewing the relevant literature. The report has been questioned on the grounds that the task force set unrealistically high standards for methodological purity in order to find grounds to dismiss this literature (Jones, Rosik, Williams, & Byrd, 2010). The task force "…concluded that there is little in the way of credible evidence that could clarify whether SOCE does or does not work in changing same-sex attractions" (APA, 2009, p. 28). While NARTH concurs with some points made in the study, we see it as flawed from the outset. Several highly qualified conservative psychologists were nominated to serve on the task force, yet all of them were rejected. The director of the APA's Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns Office, Clinton Anderson, offered the following defense: "We cannot take into account what are fundamentally negative religious perceptions of homosexuality—they don't fit into our world view" (Carey, 2007). Such comments support the contention that the APA leadership constitutes a "tribal-moral" community united by a particular set of "sacred values" that will embrace science when it supports their ideals but ignore or distort it as soon as it threatens a "sacred" (foundational) value (Tierney, 2011). By mandating such viewpoint suppression, the task force failed to include anyone sympathetic to the professional practice of SOCE and not surprisingly, ended up with a report that had little positive to say about it.
NARTH Response to the APA 2009 Task Force Report on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, http://www.narth.com/docs/apataskforcereportbroch.pdf.
A Formal Response to the Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force, http://narth.com/2011/01/a-formal-response-to-the-report-of-the-american-psychological-association-task-force/
14. Does NARTH advocate reparative therapy?
All therapy for most any purpose can be considered "reparative." The term "Reparative Therapy" has been used by some of our members to describe psychoanalytic or psychodynamic types of intervention for same-sex attracted individuals who desire to pursue change. However, NARTH takes a much broader approach, and practitioners have used a number of other standard therapeutic interventions as well with this population. Some of these other approaches include cognitive, interpersonal, narrative, and group interventions, often in combination. As with treating other clinical issues, there are varying approaches used; some may be better suited than others. There are different paths into and different paths out of homosexuality.
15. What is homophobia? Is NARTH homophobic?
The term "homophobia" was coined in 1972 by George Weinberg and has evolved from signifying a rejection of one's own homoerotic desires to being understood as a means to challenge heterosexuals' reactions to and beliefs about gay and lesbian persons (Herek, 1994). While there is no universally agreed upon definition of homophobia, the term now connotes an implicit demand that those who do not fully affirm homosexual behavior and the political goals of gay activists should themselves be the objects of concern and viewed as potentially deviant and morally condemnable. The problem with this usage has been well summarized by O'Donahue and Caselles (2005): "It is most unfortunate when scientists attempt to pass implicit or explicit pejorative evaluations of individuals holding certain open and debatable value positions as part of their science" (p. 82). The shortcomings of the terminology of homophobia have led to it being largely abandoned in academic circles, but its ongoing rhetorical and political effectiveness ensures that accusations of homophobia will continue to be a prime weapon in the cultural debates over the moral, legal, and political status of homosexual behavior. Given this backdrop, NARTH is not a homophobic organization. Those who level such charges appear interested in partisan advantage rather than serious discussions about the deeper issues of values, morality, and the limits of science.
16. What would NARTH like others to know about its organization?
We would certainly like others to thoughtfully and respectfully consider all the questions and answers above. Additionally, NARTH believes the study and treatment of undesired same-sex attraction should be respected and allowed without disparagement, in a spirit of inclusiveness. Social scientists and clinical practitioners should not have to experience ad hominem (personal) attacks when pursuing legitimate inquiry and interventions. Respect for self-determination is a foundational value for anyone conducting research or interventions. We acknowledge and respect self-determination in others, including those with whom we disagree, and request the same civility be extended to our organization. Any scientific discussion of sexual diversity should include those struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions, as well as those men and women who choose to identify themselves as ex-gay.
American Psychological Association (2008). Answers to your questions: For a better understanding of sexual orientation and homosexuality. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from www.apa.org/topics/sorientation.pdf.
American Psychological Association. (2009). Report of the APA Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual
Orientation. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/therapeuticresponse.pdf
Bailey, J. M., Dunne, M. P., & Martin, N. G. (2000). Genetic and environmental influences on sexual orientation and its correlates in an Australian twin sample. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 524-536.
Beyrer, C., Baral, S. D.,van Griensven,F., Goodreau, S.M., Chariyalertsak, S., Wirtz, A. L., & Brookmeyer, R. (2012). Global epidemiology of HIV infection in men who have sex with men. Lancet, 380, 367-377.
Carey, D. (2007, September 20). Group to review therapy stance. Oakland Tribune. Retrieved from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20070711/ai_n19358074
de Graaf, R., Sandfort, T. G. M., & ten Have, M. (2006). Suicidality and sexual orientation: Differences between men and women in a general population-based sample from the Netherlands. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 35, 253-262.
Herek, G. M. (2004). Beyond "homophobia": Thinking about sexual prejudice and stigma in the twenty-first century. Seuxality Research & Social Policy, 1, 6-24.
Jones, S. L., Rosik, C. H., Williams, R. N., & Byrd, A. D. (2010). A scientific, conceptual, and ethical critique of the Report of the APA Task Force on Sexual Orientation. The General Psychologist, 45(2), 7-18. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/divisions/div1/news/fall2010/Fall%202010%20TGP.pdf
Marks, L. (2012). Same-sex parenting and children's outcomes: A closer examination of the American psychological associations brief on lesbian and gay parenting. Social Science Research, 41, 735-751.
National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (2010). Practice guidelines for the treatment of unwanted same-sex attractions and behavior. Journal of Human Sexuality, 2, 5-65. Retrieved from http://narth.com/2011/12/narth-practice-guidelines
O'Donahue, W. T., & Caselles, C. E. (2005). Homophobia: Conceptual,definitional, and value issues. In Wright, R. H., & Cummings, N. A. (Eds.), Destructive trends in mental health: The well-intentioned path to harm (pp. 65-83). New York, NY: Routledge.
Regnerus, M. (2012). How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study. Social Science Research, 41, 752-770.
Remafedi, G., Farrow, J., & Deiser, R. (1991). Risk factors for attempted suicide in gay and bisexual youth. Pediatrics, 87, 869-875.
Sandfort, T. G. M., de Graaf, R., Bijl, R. V., & Schnabel, P. (2001). Same-sex behavior and psychiatric disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 58, 85-91.
Savin-Williams, R. C., & Ream, G. L. (2007). Prevalence and stability of sexual orientation components during adolescence and young adulthood. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 36, 385-394.
Tierney, J. (2011, February 11). Social scientist sees bias within. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/08/science/08tier.html?_r=3
Whitehead, N., & Whitehead, B. (2011). My genes made me do it! A scientific look at sexual orientation. Retrieved from http://www.mygenes.co.nz/
Friday, September 28, 2012
New NARTH Article: Frequently Asked Questions
Posted by PFOX at 12:24 PM