Focus on the Family regularly promotes ex-gay therapy, but it seems that there is a limit to the extreme rhetoric it will use. Namely, it seems that the group now subtly avoids the talking point that homosexuality is caused by sexual abuse.
Focus on the Family posted an article about the court decision upholding California’s law banning ex-gay therapy, and highlighted Liberty Counsel’s announcement that the group would continue to appeal the case. Focus, however, notably omitted just one small part of the Liberty Counsel’s statement.
Here’s how the Focus post read, quoting a statement from Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver:
“Legislators and judges in the state of California have essentially barged into the private therapy rooms of victimized young people,” Staver said. “(They have) told them that their confusion … is normal and they should pursue their unwanted and dangerous same-sex sexual attractions and behavior, regardless of whether those minors desire their religious beliefs to trump their unwanted attractions. The law is an astounding overreach by the state.”
Here is how Staver’s statement actually read, without the ellipsis:
“Legislators and judges in the state of California have essentially barged into the private therapy rooms of victimized young people and told them that their confusion, caused by the likes of a Jerry Sandusky abuser, is normal and they should pursue their unwanted and dangerous same-sex sexual attractions and behavior, regardless of whether those minors desire their religious beliefs to trump their unwanted attractions.”
Only the reference to “the likes of a Jerry Sandusky abuser” was excised from the statement. This seems to be a significant editorial change for Focus on the Family. Back in 2010, the anti-gay group was regularly discussing connections between sexual abuse and homosexuality. Even last October, discussing ex-gay therapists’ intentions to challenge the California law, Focus on the Family included the suggestion that “sexual trauma” could contribute “to a person’s later sexual attractions, identity, or behavior.” A similar claim was made in November that sexual abuse is responsible for transgender identities. Now, such language is being specifically omitted in Focus’ content.
No evidence has ever been collected to demonstrate a causal link between sexual abuse and a same-sex sexual orientation. In fact, the latest research on the causes of homosexuality suggests a significant biological component based on how genes present when they interact with hormones in the womb.
Obviously, Focus on the Family is still defending ex-gay therapy, despite its harmfulness and ineffectiveness. Still, this slight move away from the most extreme rhetoric — claiming that gay kids are the victim of sexual abuse — is an improvement nonetheless.