What did the AAPA really say?

Yesterday, Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out posted a video on You Tube criticizing the nomination of James Holsinger for Surgeon General. Wayne criticizes the Dr. Holsinger for his support of an ex-gay ministry in his church in KY.

In the video, Wayne says this: “The fact is that every respected mainstream medical and mental health group in the nation including the AMA, ApA, APA and the AAP say that attempts to change sexual orientation don’t work and can be dangerous, leading to anxiety, depression and self-destructive behavior, including suicide.” Although he does not say the American Academy of Physician Assistants, he displays their logo, among others, as a backdrop for his comments. Knowing what the AAPA actually did at their convention, I contacted Nancy Hughes, VP for Communications for the AAPA to ask if there was more to the AAPA position than I knew. I also asked her if the statement from Wayne mischaracterized the AAPA position. She would only say, “We have contacted the gentlemen who posted the video.” She did not say however, what the nature of the contact was. I guess it is only for her and Wayne to know.

At any rate, at risk of redundacy, here is all I know the AAPA has said on the matter:

“The American Academy of Physician Assistants opposes any psychiatric treatment directed specifically at changing sexual orientation, such as “conversion” or “reparative” therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her sexual orientation.”

This statement renders this report from Family New in Focus a bit off as well, but I am told this morning that it will be changed to better reflect the AAPA’s actual statement. This report from the Christian Post seems more on target.

All in all, the AAPA position seems pretty moderate. It seems important for medical groups to state the obvious about same sex attraction (not a mental disorder in itself) and that therapists should not impose their moral views on clients/patients in a coercive manner. I also hope that the APA task force and all those reviewing this issue come to a similar place regarding religious belief. This quote from the Christian Post article says it well:

“Health care professionals should not coerce patients into reorientation but neither should they discourage patients from bringing their sexuality into accord with their religious convictions,” said Dr. Robert Spitzer, professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University in New York City. “Even though I am not religious, I do believe it to be hubris for health care professionals to use our position to promote one set of beliefs over another.”

UPDATE: 6/5/07 – Wayne Besen emailed to say the AAPA had informed him that he used the logo without authorization. However, the use was inadvertant. He included the logo after he saw that the group had made a statement about therapy. However, he did not mention them in the narration and accidentally left the logo in the video. He has a new version out with the logo removed. In the place of the logo, he has some spiffy graphics. The first version is to be retired soon. Also, today the AAPA emailed to say that the statement approved by the AAPA House of Delegates on May 28 is the only policy they have.