Changing attitudes about lesbians, gays & bisexuals.
Promoting change. About reparative therapy
Is change happening?:
The short answer is yes and slowly.
|On a person to person basis, change is happening.
||When a parent learns that their child is gay,
the information often triggers a crisis. Their initial reaction is often
very negative. However, some parents are able to survive the crisis, to
learn about homosexuality, to abandon what they have been taught them in the
past, and change. Some become enthusiastic advocates for an end to
homophobia and in favor of equal rights for persons of all sexual
orientations, including the right to marry.|
||When a gay person comes out of the closet and reveals their sexual
orientation to friends and family, many of the latter experience a
conflict between the evils of homosexuality about which they had been taught,
and the respect and love that they have to the gay person. Love often
wins out. |
Homophobia seems to thrive in an environment where people view
gays and lesbians as a faceless, evil group with an culturally dangerous agenda; it weakens when
people view homosexuals as hurting individuals. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey in the year 2000 showed that among those who
don't know any homosexuals, 68% agreed with the statement "Homosexual behavior
is morally wrong." Among those who know a homosexual as a personal friend, the
percentage dropped to 47%. 1 That was over a decade ago. The numbers are probably at least 10 percentage points lower today.
Many gays and lesbians are coming out of the closet in school. And so we see an age-related split in North America over homosexuality:
Surveys have shown that high school students are
becoming far more accepting of homosexuality than are their parents -- and even more accepting than their grandparents. Polls indicate that support for civil unions and
same-sex marriage is steadily increasing, just as
support for interracial marriage did during the last
decades of the 20th century. As of early 2011, those supporting same-sex marriage have taken a major surge, largely because its acceptance by men has caught up with the acceptence of women. Supporters now outnumber those opposed by about 9 percentage points.
|On an organizational basis, change is still happening, but it is
proceeding much slower:|
||A remarkable event happened in 1988 that few Americans know
about. The General Council of the United Church of Canada
met in Victoria BC to discuss the ordination of sexually active gays and
lesbians. Hundreds of local study groups had preceded the meeting. About
90% of them opposed ordination. The vast majority of delegates to the Council
were similarly opposed, but they came with open minds. They heard the
heart wrenching testimonies of a few devout gay and lesbian church
members. At the Council, many delegates probably met an openly homosexual person for the
first time in their life. They debated little else among themselves.
They searched their souls and prayed to learn God's will. Most changed
their mind! The resolution passed by a 3:1 margin. A second resolution
was also approved. It called for the denomination to fight
discrimination against homosexuals both in and beyond the church. Again,
change occurred when gay individuals risked censure and homophobia by
coming out to others. Unfortunately, the folks back home did not
have the advantage of hearing the personal stories of gays and lesbians;
the delegates had a lot of explaining to do when they returned to their
home towns. More info.|
||Gay-positive groups have been organized in most of the larger
denominations. 2 The Unitarian
Universalist Association was the first large faith group to
organize a department of gay and lesbian concerns in the early 1970s.
3 In many other denominations, the groups
are independent of the main body. Typical among these is the
Reconciling Ministries Network within the United Methodist
Church. 4 The Roman
Catholic Church has two groups: Dignity that celebrates
"...the wholeness and holiness of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender
Catholics," 5 and the official Courage
Apostolate within the Church that attempts to teach chastity and
celibacy. 6 In the U,S, Dignity is prohibited from using church facilities.|
||Very little, if any. dialog is occurring between
secular GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual) groups and religious
denominations -- particularly those faith groups from the evangelical wing
of Christianity and the conservative wings of other religions.|
How an individual can promote change:
First one assesses the need for change; then act. We recommend a four step process:
- If you are affiliated with a religious
denomination, study what your faith group has to say about homosexuality. Go
to their home page and search out official statements on the topic.
- Go to the home page of a denomination at the opposite end of the
conservative-liberal spectrum. For example, you are a member of the United Church,
examine the statements of the Southern Baptist Convention,
7,8,9 or vice-versa. 10
- Talk to some lesbian, gay or bisexual friends. Visit some gay-positive websites.
Read a book describing the
personal experiences of gays and lesbians. We recommend two books:
Gold and Mindy Drucker, "CRISIS: 40 stories revealing the personal,
social and religious pain and trauma by growing up gay in America."
|Jack Rogers, former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),
has written a helpful book called: "Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality:
Explode the Myths, Heal the Church." 12|
- Modify your current position, if you feel that is justified, and then
We maintain a list of events that indicate a
cultural shift showing an increase (or decrease) in acceptance of homosexuals
and homosexuality in North America.
In early 2011, a federal judge in Massachusetts declared the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional. The Obama Administration then decided to no longer defend DOMA during court challenges. These developments convinced some LGBT commentators that a "tipping point" had been reached on equal rights for LGBTs, and that future change towards equality would accellerate.
Our thoughts on engaging in reparative therapy:
It is our belief that no new therapeutic technique, whether
recovered memory therapy, therapy for multiple
personality disorder, facilitated communications,
theophostic counseling, etc. should be widely
practiced until after its efficacy and safety are firmly established.
People's lives are simply too valuable to risk injury from untested, unevaluated,
and potentially dangerous therapies. People have received lengthy jail sentences for crimes that never happened as a result of some of these therapies; some clients have committed suicide; some clients have become emotionally disabled; some families of origin have been destroyed.
We strongly recommend caution before entering reparative therapy
or similar programs for
||The efficacy and safety of Reparative therapy or programs at Transformational Ministries have not been established through
long term studies by impartial observers, and |
||There exists considerable anecdotal evidence of extreme depression, suicidal
ideation, attempted suicide, and completed suicide following such
therapies among some clients, and|
|A large investment in effort, time and money required by the client.|
Unfortunately, the quality of the studies
about reparative therapy is extremely poor. We desperately need well designed, statistically valid studies that will produce
results that both religious conservatives and others will be able to accept. To
do less than this is profoundly immoral, and could continue to result in large numbers of people
in real pain, some with suicidal ideation, and some completed suicide.
Seeking a permanent resolution to the conflict:
That folks who maintain this website are seriously troubled by the distress experienced -- and loss of life through suicide -- within the LGBT community. Our feeling is that the solution to the pain and loss lies not in debate but in honest dialogue. This would require individuals or groups to ditch their preconceived beliefs and biases, to abandon the promotion of their foundational beliefs and conclusions, and earnestly seek the truth about sexual orientation and gender identity, wherever it lies.
On 2011-APR-25, we attempted to start such a dialogue with a supporter of the group: "Americans for ex-gay rights."
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
Cited in David G. Meyers & Letha Dawson Scanzoni, "What God has joined together? A
Christian case for gay marriage," HarperSanFrancisco, (2005-JUN), Pages 140 to 147. This is based on a proof version of the book; the page number may be
changed in the final published copy. Read
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
- "Religion and Social Issues by Tradition," Inter-Faith Working Group, at:
- "Office of Gay Concerns: 1975 business resolution," Unitarian Universalist
- "Reconciling Ministries Network," at: http://www.rmnetwork.org/
- Dignity USA, at: http://www.dignityusa.org/
- "Welcome to the Courage Community," at: http://couragerc.net/
- "Sexuality," Southern Baptist Convention, at: http://www.sbc.net/
- "Homosexuality: your questions answered," The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, at:
- A search of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission using the search word "homosexual" found 600 references! This is clearly a topic of major
importance to the Commission.
- "We do," Unitarian Universalist Association, at:
- Mitchell Gold & Mindy Drucker, "CRISIS: 40 stories revealing the personal, social and religious pain
and trauma of growing up gay in America," Read
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
- Jack Rogers, "Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal
the Church," Westminster John Knox Press, (2006)
Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
Copyright © 2006 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Originally written: 2006-NOV-17
Last update and review: 2011-APR-24
Author: B.A. Robinson