A reader emailed me to say that the American Psychological Association had recently changed the official view on homosexuality causation to endorse an environmental set of causes. The prompt for the email was this article from WorldNetDaily: “‘Gay’ gene claim suddenly vanishes”
To arrive at this startling conclusion, the WND writer, Rob Unruh quotes an article published more than a year ago from NARTH titled, “APA’s New Pamphlet On Homosexuality De-emphasizes The Biological Argument, Supports A Client’s Right To Self-Determination.”
In the article, Dean Byrd notes that the APA document shifts emphasis on causes to a more nuanced and complex view. Byrd cites this quote:
“There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles…”
However, oddly, Byrd leaves this last phrase from the APA website out of his quote:
…most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.
Also in the APA paper, reparative therapy is discussed. The APA says
What about therapy intended to change sexual orientation from gay to straight?
All major national mental health organizations have officially expressed concerns about therapies promoted to modify sexual orientation. To date, there has been no scientifically adequate research to show that therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation (sometimes called reparative or conversion therapy) is safe or effective. Furthermore, it seems likely that the promotion of change therapies reinforces stereotypes and contributes to a negative climate for lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons. This appears to be especially likely for lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals who grow up in more conservative religious settings.
Helpful responses of a therapist treating an individual who is troubled about her or his same-sex attractions include helping that person actively cope with social prejudices against homosexuality, successfully resolve issues associated with and resulting from internal conflicts, and actively lead a happy and satisfying life. Mental health professional organizations call on their members to respect a person’s (client’s) right to self-determination; be sensitive to the client’s race, culture, ethnicity, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, language, and disability status when working with that client; and eliminate biases based on these factors.
From these paragraphs expressing concern, Byrd pulls out this sentence to portray a greater openness to change therapy than is warranted:
“Mental health organizations call on their members to respect a person’s [client’s] right to self-determination.”
I blogged about this article last year when it came out, commending the APA for their nuanced account of the research to that point. I think NARTH should do what the APA did a year ago and issue a statement about environmental causes. Then I wondered:
…when NARTH would make an APA-like statement about theorized environmental factors such as child abuse and same-sex parenting deficits. What if NARTH acknowledged “what most scientists have long known: that a bio-psycho-social model of causation best fits the data?” Wouldn’t there be a need for a statement cautioning readers of their materials that evidence for parenting playing a large or determining role is meager? Paralleling Dr. Byrd’s assessment of the APA pamphlet, shouldn’t NARTH say with italics, “There is no homogenic family. There is no simple familial pathway to homosexuality.”…
I wrote Dean and asked him about NARTH’s stance. He answered for himself by saying,
I think that the bio-psycho-social model of causation makes it clear that there is neither a simple biological or environmental pathway to homosexuality.
NARTH is widely known for championing a view of homosexuality that requires some kind of trauma as a causal factor. In point of fact, SSA can occur without bad parenting or abuse. Shouldn’t NARTH follow the APA’s lead and issue an official statement such as suggested above?
UPDATE: OneNewsNow and AFTAH have joined the echo chamber.
The ONN account begins:
The attempt to prove that homosexuality is determined biologically has been dealt a knockout punch. An American Psychological Association publication includes an admission that there’s no homosexual “gene” — meaning it’s not likely that homosexuals are born that way.
I wonder if NARTH will correct this misunderstanding of the APA’s publication. In fact, no knockout punch has been delivered to any theory, except perhaps for those dogmatic views that stress one pathway. Let’s see leaving aside extreme biological determinism, who else gets a knockout punch here? The APA statement cuts both ways but NARTH, and the people quoted in this report only want to see it go one way.
The APA (over a year ago) handled the research with integrity. When will NARTH and related groups do the same?