Wednesday, February 28, 2007

XGW Gets on the Phone, Clears Something Up

As far as I'm concerned, this is one way blogs can really make a difference -- by gathering information and putting it out there when the mainstream media won't.

Recently the American Psychological Association announced that it would consider developing a new statement regarding conversion therapy or "reparative therapy," techniques which are intended to make gay people straight. I can't find the APA's original statement on this matter, but Focus on the Family played it as a story of outside groups (read: "the gay agenda") pressuring the APA to be politically correct. Their unbiased, family-friendly headline: Gay Pressure Threatens Counseling. They interviewed Dr. Clinton W. Anderson, director of the lesbian, gay, and bisexual concerns office at the APA, who told them that the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute (NGLTF) and PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbian and Gays) "came to us and said from their perspective issues related to reparative therapy are still very important issues that affect the well-being of lesbian, gay and bisexual people,"

Warren Throckmorton, as well, blogged it as American Psychological Association Responds to "External Organizations", sort of telling you where he stands on this.

I checked once, and though he is a psychologist he is not a member of the APA. For the record, I have been a dues-paying member for fifteen years.

Well, this story had a funny smell to it right from the start, especially since the rightwing web sites had it before there was apparently any APA press release or anything in the news. So the story started out with a lot of right English on it.

Somebody pasted the Family Blah Blah version into our comments a while back, but the whole story just seemed a little short on facts, so I waited a while.

The guys over at ExGay Watch, though, were not so patient. They got on the phone and called people. They talked to the APA's Clinton Anderson, NGLTF's Jason Cianciotto, and PFLAG's Ron Schlittler. Asked them what happened.

What a strange idea, huh? As if you can't trust Google.

XGW's explanation:
What I learned was that in an informal meeting Schlittler (PFLAG) expressed concerns to Anderson (APA) over: (in Schlittler’s words)
“aggressive promotion of “reparative therapy” by right wing groups.”

Given that the APA’s position statement on reparative therapy is 8-years old Anderson issued a formal memo in September of 2005 to NGLTF and PFLAG seeking formal opinions from both organizations. To be clear, NGLTF never even gave their opinion to the APA until asked for it. I hardly consider that “pressure.”

Focus did not report the primary reason for the formation of the investigative task-force, which is because: (in Cianciotto’s words)
[since 1997 a] “growing body of new research has been published on conversion therapy and a number of other medical and mental health professional associations have released new statements and policies on the issue.”

All three sources I spoke with, the APA, NGLTF, and PFLAG indicated this was the primary reason for the formation of a task-force. Focus neglected to report this.

So the APA asked for their opinions. You might not like it that the psychologists ask these groups what they think is going on, but ... they have that right, and if I were them I'd want to know. There's a lot of stuff going on that you and I don't hear about, and it makes perfectly good sense to go ask the guys in the front lines what's going on.

Ron's with a Family group, I mean a real family group, one that promotes love between family members, not a Family Blah Blah group that just uses the word to prove they're better than you. Clinton's with a psychological organization, in fact, the biggest one. It is not surprising that they would be talking about this. It's Ron's job to bring it up, and it's Anderson's job to know what the GLBT issues are.

The real reason they're looking at this statement is that there's a lot of new research and , because of intense political interest in the topic, there is a social need for a clear statement. The APA can and should clear up some of the confusion -- and if you read our comments section, you see there really is a lot of confusion -- about this kind of therapy and whether it works or not.


Blogger andrea said...

As I think I've written before, Harold Eist, a former president of the American Psychiatric Assocation told me that if I write a letter to the WaPo saying Reparative Therapy is BS(he says I have to write the word out), he will sign it. Of course, the Post would never publish it.

February 28, 2007 10:52 AM  

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