Dispatches from the Creation Wars

APA: Gay Reversion Doesn’t Work

A new review of studies by the American Psychological Association says what was obvious to most of us already, that gay reversion therapy doesn’t work.

The American Psychological Association concluded Wednesday that there is little evidence that efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation from gay or lesbian to heterosexual are effective.

In addition, the 138-page report — covering 87 peer-reviewed studies — said that such efforts may cause harm.


Of course they cause harm. Tell a young gay kid that he can stop being gay if only his faith is strong enough and he loves God enough and prays hard enough and when they find out they’re still gay that only adds to the self-loathing that is so often visited upon gays by an intolerant culture and bigoted parents.

“Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation,” said Judith M. Glassgold, chairwoman of the task force that presented the report at the group’s annual meeting in Toronto, Canada. The Washington-based association represents more than 150,000 members.

“At most, certain studies suggested that some individuals learned how to ignore or not act on their homosexual attractions. Yet, these studies did not indicate for whom this was possible, how long it lasted or its long-term mental health effects. Also, this result was much less likely to be true for people who started out only attracted to people of the same sex.”…

The group’s Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation reached its conclusion after its review of 87 studies conducted between 1960 and 2007 and finding “serious methodological problems” in the vast majority of them.

Those few studies that did have “high-quality” evidence “show that enduring change to an individual’s sexual orientation is uncommon,” it said…

In addition, the report cited evidence that efforts to switch a person’s sexual orientation through aversive treatments might cause harm, including loss of sexual feeling, suicidality, depression and anxiety.

Many who tried to change and failed “described their experiences as a significant cause of emotional and spiritual distress and negative self-image,” it said.

If you want a textbook example of what’s wrong with gay reversion “therapy,” look at this Youtube video about the experiences of Patrick McAlvey. He’s from Michigan and is the campaign manager for the current mayor of Lansing.