Thoughts on NARTH’s statement on sexual orientation change

For the sake of time, I am going to react to parts of NARTH’s new statement on sexual orientation change. First, I want to say a few things about this paragraph:

Finally, it also needs to be observed that reports on the potential for sexual orientation change may be unduly pessimistic based on the confounding factor of type of intervention. Most of the recent research on homosexual sexual orientation change has focused on religiously mediated outcomes which may differ significantly from outcomes derived through professional psychological care. It is not unreasonable to anticipate that the probability of change would be greater with informed psychotherapeutic care, although definitive answers to this question await further research. NARTH remains highly interested in conducting such research, pursuant only to the acquisition of sufficient funding.

I am surprised that NARTH complains about religiously mediated change when they highlight such change on the organization website. In any event, it is good that the writer of this statement acknowledges that religious mediation is different than therapy. Now, if only they would stop offering Jones and Yarhouse as evidence that therapy works.

On the subject of research, I am highly skeptical that NARTH really wants to do the type of study that would really address questions about change related to therapy. I say this because NARTH has been in existence since 1992 and they have had ample opportunities to do research. I believe one study has been funded by NARTH (please correct me if I am wrong NARTH readers).

Regarding funding, I believe the religious conservative world could spare funds for such research if there was a willingness to do it. I recognize NARTH is not a rich organization but there are ways to do research without large sums of money. For instance, Mark Yarhouse has been prolifically doing research on sexual identity and the sexual identity framework without much funding. I have done some research on my own out of my own pocket (although far less than Yarhouse). Surely, some Christian right organizations could go together and get NARTH the funds necessary to really test their claims.

Over the past several years, I have asked various social conservative sources for funding in order to test those who say they have changed in Michael Bailey’s lab at Northwestern. We need somewhere between $60-100K to do it. Bailey has identified profiles of straights, gays and bisexuals. I think we could also identify the spousosexual profile with some creativity but neither one of us has had success in getting funds.

An intellectually more honest position would be to say that NARTH does not know for sure about change since adequately designed research has not been conducted. Until then, NARTH’s leaders who go out to religious right groups saying with confidence that change from gay to straight happens will be violating their own statement.