The APA’s Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts was the result of two years of research and reporting by the Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation. According to the APA,
The task force examined the peer-reviewed journal articles in English from 1960 to 2007, which included 83 studies. Most of the studies were conducted before 1978, and only a few had been conducted in the last 10 years. The group also reviewed the recent literature on the psychology of sexual orientation.
Unfortunately, much of the research in the area of sexual orientation change contains serious design flaws,” Glassgold said. “Few studies could be considered methodologically sound and none systematically evaluated potential harms.
As to the issue of possible harm, the task force was unable to reach any conclusion regarding the efficacy or safety of any of the recent studies of SOCE [sexual orientation change efforts]: “There are no methodologically sound studies of recent SOCE that would enable the task force to make a definitive statement about whether or not recent SOCE is safe or harmful and for whom,” according to the report.
The task force advised therapists to help clients “explore possible life paths that address the reality of their sexual orientation, reduce the stigma associated with homosexuality, respect the client’s religious beliefs, and consider possibilities for a religiously and spiritually meaningful and rewarding life.”
Exodus concealed the APA resolution and task force’s title, which both implied that Exodus programs are inappropriate responses to sexual orientation. Exodus also omits mention of he APA report’s repudiation of the methodologically unsound studies of Exodus, NARTH, and antigay researchers from Wheaton College and Regent University. And Exodus misrepresented the APA report’s emphasis on helping clients find religious support that affirms the client’s sexual orientation. Exodus said instead:
The American Psychological Association has released a new report today at its annual convention in Toronto acknowledging that an individual’s faith is an important variable when it comes to dealing with conflicts between religious beliefs and same-sex attraction. Exodus International, the largest worldwide ministry to those in conflict with their sexuality and faith, says this report acknowledges religious diversity and hopes to see more efforts to ensure this in the future.
While Exodus does not fully agree with the APA’s criticisms of clinical techniques such as reparative therapy and its view of sexualchange, the report does recognize that some choose to live their lives in congruence with religious values. The report also encourages therapists to avoid imposing a specific outcome on clients.
The APA’s report comes on the heels of a recent study conducted by the Barna Research Group that compared the religious views of heterosexuals and homosexuals. The study, showed that 60% of the adults surveyed who identified themselves asdescribed their faith as “very important.”
Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, says that not only is faith is an essential part of life for many gay men and women, it is almost always the motivating factor behind their decision to leave it behind and that many in Exodus have experienced a shift in attractions along the way. Chambers just released his second book, Leaving Homosexuality, which clarifies realistic expectations involved in this process.
Through omission, Exodus denies the existence of gay-affirming faith communities and religious leaders. Exodus also mischaracterizes Chambers’ two recent books, which promote “freedom” from sexuality, encourage gay people to enter sexless heterosexual marriages, and shame conservatives who choose to remain gay and celibate.
Exodus declines to quantify “many” and omits its definition of “shift in attractions” — intentionally misleading readers to believe these people have become heterosexual or bisexual when in fact they have merely suppressed their own sexual and romantic desire and fled from any situation that might tempt them into close friendships or intimate relationship.
“The role of religion and the importance of faith cannot be understated when it comes to the ongoing dialogue over sexual and gender identity,” said Chambers. “It is an essential element of many people’s lives and creates great moral conflict and tension for those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction. We are grateful that the APA has acknowledged this and hope to see more done to ensure that religious diversity and personal autonomy are respected in the future.”
In fact, Exodus opposes personal autonomy: The organization this year has promoted antigay vigilantism and life imprisonment against gay people in Uganda, lenient punishment of antigay violent crimes in the United States, and forced ex-gay therapy in both the United States and Uganda. The organization also became lead sponsor of an annual religious-right campaign to silence gay students and gay-tolerant faculty and to oppose antibullying programs in U.S. schools.