This week, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), issued a statement defending GOP presidential hopefuls Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty for suggesting that sexual orientation is a choice. Echoing what Marcus Bachmann said about his Christian counseling clinics, NARTH essentially blames the victims of harmful ex-gay therapy by standing up for their right to pursue it (and misspells Michele Bachmann’s name in the process):
In the past week presidential candidate Congresswoman Michelle Bachman has been attacked because her husband, psychologist Marcus Bachman, allegedly does “reparative therapy” for those who come to his Christian counseling clinic seeking assistance with unwanted homosexuality. Almost simultaneously former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was asked in an interview if he thought homosexuality was a choice. Both campaigns reacted with statements that mirror information familiar to NARTH members and supporters. In short, they responded that counseling clients have a right to seek assistance for their unwanted homosexual attractions and science does not support the “born that way” mantra used to promote the gay political agenda.
NARTH goes on to say, “Ethical therapists support their clients in achieving their stated goals, including goals to move beyond a homosexual orientation.”
NARTH is wrong on all accounts. While clients certainly have a right to whatever they want, it is a compromise of psychological standards to reinforce the idea that they should not want same-sex attractions. The American Psychological Association recognizes that sexual orientation has been proven to have biological components and that the appropriate therapeutic response is to affirm same-sex attractions so as to dispel the stigma that might make them “unwanted.” Ex-gay therapy has never been scientifically proven to work, and studies indicate that it can actually be quite psychologically harmful. Supporting clients’ goals to “move beyond a homosexual orientation” is disingenuous and anything but ethical.
Posing as a professional organization, NARTH is merely a collective of therapists who casually ignore all research that contradicts their belief that sexual orientation can be changed. Many use faith-based counseling and work with ex-gay ministries such as Exodus International. Their work has been repudiated by major professional organizations such as the APA.
The California Board for Behavioral Science has removed NARTH from its list of approved continuing education providers.