Ex-Gay Advocates Claim Homosexuality Is Caused By Parental Abuse

Several fringe conservative groups have filed amicus briefs in the case challenging California’s ban on ex-gay therapy for minors. These groups rely solely on their own subjective research to defend individual’s right to try to change their sexual orientation if they wish to, conveniently disregarding that the anti-gay stigma they promote is the only reason anybody has negative feelings about their sexual orientation in the first place. Among the amici is the so-called American College of Pediatricians (ACP), an impostor organization of social conservatives that won’t even admit how few members it has. Unlike the LGBT-supporting 60,000-member American Academy of Pediatricians they hope to be mistaken for, the College peddles junk science to defend ex-gay therapy, including that homosexuality is caused directly by trauma. Here’s how they explain it in their brief:

These children need therapy for the trauma, not affirmation of a “gay identity.” Trauma (as an objective, measurable external event) lends itself to quantitative research and has been studied relative to homosexuality. One example of this is the disproportionate extent of sexual abuse during the childhoods of adult homosexuals. Another example is the increased association of homosexuality and gender identity disorder with parental separation at critical developmental stages.

There are also two forms of psychological trauma commonly associated with homosexuality. The first is the trauma caused by the child’s subjective experience of the same-sex parent’s lack of availability, rejection, or even harsh verbal, physical, or sexual attack. This may lead to an intense longing for love from the same-sex parent that is eventually sexualized by the child. Similarly, psychological trauma may also be caused by the child’s subjective experience of the opposite-sex parent’s lack of availability, rejection, or even harsh verbal, physical, or sexual attack. This may lead to an intense fear of and aversion toward opposite-sex relationships. In both situations, by objective standards, the parent may or may not be described in these terms.

While these traumas are unusually common in the childhoods of same-sex attracted persons, they are not universal, and in many cases, other, less typical traumas may be present. This reflects the inherent complexity of the interaction between one’s biologically influenced temperament, various environmental factors and the free-will choices individuals make.

The primary citation for most of these bogus claims is not even a scientific research paper, but a book called Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, which was written by Orthodox Jewish psychiatrist Jeffrey Satinover and published by evangelical Christian publisher Baker Books. Satinover compares homosexuality to alcoholism and pedophilia, describing it as a compulsion instead of an identity.


Another impostor group, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays And Gays (PFOX), also filed a brief that primarily highlighted four testimonials from people who claimed to be ex-gay. One of them isn’t even alive anymore, but unsurprisingly, all four of them started organizations that profit off of promoting and offering ex-gay therapy. This includes the infamous ex-gay therapist Richard Cohen, who was expelled from the American Counseling Association for six violations of its ethics code.

Though these groups represent a fringe mentality on sexuality, many still believe their ideas have merit. Not only do they not, but these ideas are harmful, which is specifically what the law banning ex-gay therapy was meant to address. Their objection to it does not change this reality. (HT: Kathleen Perrin.)