In August, the American Psychological Association released a report that explicitly said “there is insufficient evidence” for therapists to claim conversion therapy works.
The APA report also admonished so-called “ex-gay” counselors to not mislead clients by telling them that their sexual orientation can be changed.
The experts who crafted this report made it crystal clear that such efforts to “pray away the gay” are a sham. That, however, has not stopped a trade group of quacks from planning to sell their snake oil in West Palm Beach next month.
The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) is holding yet another conference that runs counter to science and reality. What makes this group dangerous is that it pretends to be secular, but consists of hyper-religious counselors whose goal is to make it appear as if science backs their rigid belief system.
A wide range of tactics will be used to counter this hate symposium. I will be speaking at Compass, the GLBT community Center, on Nov. 17th at 6:30PM. There will also be a protest on Nov. 21st (10-2PM) organized by various student groups in South Florida.
The centerpiece of our opposition will be The 2009 Anti-Heterosexism Conference (Nov. 20-22), created by SoulForce and sponsored by a host of other organizations. Several of the leading experts who fight the “ex-gay” industry will be on-hand to educate the community about this continuing scourge.
We tend not to think much about heterosexism, but it is both prevalent and pervasive. Much of society – even some of our allies – can’t seem to wrap their brains around the fact that we are equal, our love is on par with theirs, and that our families are valid.
For example, on blog comment sections, I have consistently read critiques from supposed “friends” that we should sublimate our equality to other concerns, such as healthcare or the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.
These people – and some are well meaning – would do almost anything to protect their families. Yet, they expect us to leave our families vulnerable. They assume we will stay silent so their families can receive benefits, while our own spouses and children are left to fend for themselves.
There is also the societal assumption that everyone is heterosexual, a bad cultural habit, considering GLBT people are everywhere. The primary reason that GLBT people must come out, is the idea that all people are heterosexual until they declare otherwise.
The “straight” assumption plays into the hands of group’s like NARTH that have very narrow views of sexuality and gender identity. They specialize in placing men and women in a behavioral box, with any deviation from that narrow 1950’s model labeled deviant.
NARTH thrives on such stereotypes and often confuses them with science. They make their money by finding insecure gay men and teaching them how to walk and talk so they will be perceived as “normal.” Women are urged to stay home and avoid masculine projects or jobs – lest they reject men and become lesbians.
In essence, groups like NARTH create a fake standard of what it means to be a man or woman. They actively bash anyone who does not adhere to their version of masculinity or femininity. Once a culture of persecution has taken root – they pretend to be the solution to the discrimination and abuse. NARTH ensures that anyone who is outside their approved model is labeled a freak, and for a hefty fee they can de-freak you.
Most heartbreaking, NARTH preys on parents and encourages them to send in children as young as three to be “fixed”. They tell parents that if a child is gay their life will be more difficult – even as NARTH is the one ensuring it will be so. There is a conflict of interest when those responsible for causing rejection and harassment claim they are there to only help those who want to change. They never seem to ask, “Why do people want to change?”
The answer, of course, is clearly the existence of NARTH.
NARTH is a backward organization run by fringe ideologues whose ideas have been soundly rejected by every respected medical and mental health association in America. It is crucial that we continue working to shine a light on its shenanigans, so people understand that NARTH is extreme, not the mainstream group it pretends to be.