Condemning Conversion Therapy is Supporting Science

, program manager, Center for Science & Democracy | April 9, 2015, 10:26 am EDT
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Last night, the White House called for a ban on so-called “conversion therapy,” or attempts to change sexual orientation. This dangerous and sometimes life-destroying form of quackery has continued for too long. Bravo to the president for throwing his administration’s weight behind the evidence. The abhorrent practice needs to stop.

Chalkings outside of a conference of pro-conversion therapy activists in 2008 drew attention to the severe individual harm the practice can cause. Photo via Flickr/exgaysurvivordan

Chalkings outside of a conference of pro-conversion therapy activists in 2008 drew attention to the severe individual harm the practice can cause. Photo via Flickr/exgaysurvivordan

All relevant major medical and related societies have condemned the practice. All. Of. Them. The American Medical Association. The American Psychological Association. The American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry. The American Academy of Pediatrics. The American Counseling Association. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. The American Psychiatric Association.  The American Psychoanalytic Association. The Pan American Health Organization. You get the idea (h/t to Human Rights Campaign for the list).

You will, of course, find fringe theorists to support any point of view, some of whom might actually be scientists, just as you will find engineers who are genuinely convinced that we faked the moon landing or that 9/11 was an inside job. They will continue to speak out, and some journalists will continue to give them ink.

But that doesn’t make them accurate. Responsible coverage will ensure that the overwhelming scientific consensus is well-represented and put in the appropriate context.

There is more to do. We need more cultural competency training for therapists, for example, and we need to ensure that health education for youth is comprehensive and scientifically accurate. (We also need to bring blood donation rules into the 21st century and make them consistent with current medical evidence. But that’s a topic for a different day.)

So thanks to the president for elevating this issue. May we continue to see progress towards the elimination of this pseudoscientific movement.

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  • it is interesting that the only group that insists on using conversion torture therapy is the conservative right wing christians. perhaps they are the ones needing banned.