STUDY SUGGESTS YES, BUT THE TRUTH FACES TOUGH OPPOSITION
Organizations like the influential American Psychiatric Association (APA, www. psych.org) have steadfastly refused to admit the possibility that attempts to change sexual orientation through religious and/or psychological methods can work.
In 1999, for example, then-APA President Rodrigo Muñoz, M.D., said: “There is no scientific evidence that reparative or conversion therapy is effective in changing a person’s sexual orientation.” He added that “there is, however, evidence that this type of therapy can be destructive.”
A new study, however, claims to prove just the opposite. Conducted by psychology professors Stanton L. Jones of Wheaton College and Mark A. Yarhouse of Regent University, the study, Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation, was published in book form and scheduled for an October release.
The authors examined individuals who were attempting to change their sexual orientation by participating in a program run by the religious ministry Exodus International. They said the study was “the most scientifically rigorous study of the possibility of sexual orientation change to date. …”
The results were impressive: 38% of the participants in the Exodus program had either embraced “chastity with a reduction in prominence of homosexual desire” or experienced “a diminishing of homosexual attraction and an increase in heterosexual attraction with a resulting satisfactory heterosexual adjustment.”
According to press reports, another 29% had had only partial success in leaving the homosexual lifestyle but were committed to continuing their efforts.
Jones and Yarhouse did not candy coat the struggle of those trying to extricate themselves from homosexuality.
“Sexual orientation change is clearly difficult and requires a serious commitment on the part of the person attempting change,” they said. “It is likely impossible for some, but clearly seems possible for others.”
Perhaps just as importantly, the researchers said they found “little evidence of harm” to those who participated in the process.
Public views shifting
For example, a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released in June found that a majority of Americans (56%) do not believe that sexual orientation can change. According to CNN.com, it was the first time a CNN poll had found that a majority felt this way.
In fact, in a 2001 poll only 45% believed sexual orientation was immutable, and in 1998 the percentage was even lower: 36%.
Related to this question was whether or not Americans believed homosexuals were born with that orientation. In the recent CNN poll, 42% of respondents said they thought homosexuality was caused by environmental factors (like family and upbringing), while 39% said gays and lesbians were born that way.
Even those results, however, have seen dramatic change over the last several decades. CNN.com said polls in the 1980s revealed that less than 20% of Americans thought homosexuals were born with that orientation, and a poll in 1977 found that only 13% held that view.
Mental health groups influencing public?
A survey of APA psychologists in 2005, conducted by H. Kilgore et al. and published in the journal Psychotherapy Theory, Research, Practice and Training, found that since the early 1990s “[t]here has been an increase in the number of psychologists with a gay-affirmative view and approach” with homosexual and bisexual clients.
For example, the Kilgore survey found that 58% of psychologists described their approach to counseling as “gay-affirmative,” compared to only 5% in a 1991 survey. Even more telling: 95% of psychologists surveyed by Kilgore said they viewed homosexuality as “acceptable” or “somewhat acceptable.” Ten years earlier a similar survey found that only 83% answered that way.
AFA President Tim Wildmon said the shift in opinion among mental health professionals is probably helping to lead the large shift in public opinion toward acceptance of homosexuality.
“When ordinary people continually see and hear and read what many mental health professionals believe – that gays and lesbians were born that way and that homosexuality cannot be changed – it’s bound to influence the opinion of the average man on the street,” he said.
TV changing public opinion
“As a result, a steady diet of pro-gay messages has helped change America’s views about the nature of homosexuality. I don’t see how that could possibly be disputed,” he said.
A recent study conducted by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), a gay-rights group, seemed to bear that out. The study found that the five major broadcast networks as well as the cable networks had planned to have a total of 77 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) characters on TV during the 2007-2008 seasons. That number is up from 56 last year.
Although GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano decried the number of GLBT characters as insufficient to suit his organization’s goals, the GLAAD report admitted that the sympathetic inclusion of homosexual characters on television could be instrumental in changing how U.S. culture viewed homosexuality.
“We know that seeing multi-dimensional LGBT people on television changes public perceptions. … The power of the broadcast medium to shape culture and collective consciousness is indisputable,” the report said.
This is more than a boast by a well-paid homosexual activist. Studies by researchers at the University of Minnesota and released in 2005 “found that exposure to positive portrayals of gay characters on television and in film can reduce levels of prejudice among viewers,” according to a university press release.
With a pro-gay worldview rampant on television and virtually etched in stone at mental health organizations, it will be difficult for the truth – as discovered by researchers like Jones and Yarhouse – to penetrate the fog of misinformation.
“But we’ve got to keep at it,” Wildmon said. “Even though lies often get a huge head start, ultimately we have to believe that the truth will be victorious.”