Are you as tired as I am of all the hocus-pocus used to attack LGBTQ+ people by those who are just plain prejudiced? Are you sick of all the pseudo-science bigoted people spout to project their own issues on LGBTQ+ human beings?
Then you’re not alone. All the major psychological, counseling, psychiatric, educational, and medical professional organizations have been for years.
That’s because science progresses as it learns more, gains new information, and continues to question its previous assumptions. When doctors get more information from their patients’ further tests, they change their diagnoses to fit those new facts.
That’s how any social or hard science differs from people who cling desperately to religious beliefs that might by objective measures not even work for their own health. It’s no wonder that it took the Roman Catholic Church 350 years to admit it was wrong in condemning Galileo for determining that the earth orbits around the sun.
Even though religions usually eventually change their views if cultural forces demand it long enough, at every time religious views were, or today are, asserted by powerful authorities, they’re considered unchangeable dogmas and often enforced violently against dissenters. Think of America’s largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, being formed in 1845 to defend slavery and apologizing for it 150 years later.
In the same way we enter the new year with a Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives who believes that his idea of psychological science and a lot of his sectarian brand of religion can “convert,” LGBTQ+ people to his chosen version of a straight lifestyle. His wife even profits from the idea, one that’s been a lucrative gig for many if they could promote it.
Just as prejudice has hidden itself behind religious claims for millennia, here we see it using psychological mumbo-jumbo and quack theories as if they’re more than that to attempt the brainwashing of LGBTQ+ people into straightness.
And, taking advantage of the guilt installed by much of our culture and played upon by right-wing religion’s obsession with LGBTQ+ people and their sex-lives, what the real science says doesn’t matter to them. They reject it because it doesn’t fit their needs
It was clear a half-century ago that, I repeat, all the professional psychological, psychiatric, medical, and educational organizations had begun to question what these “conversion” pushers are still saying. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association after an extensive review of scientific literature and consultation with experts in the field removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders – and quickly all the others followed.
As the research continued, all these professional organizations not only said that ethical professionals don’t condemn those of non-straight sexual orientations and non-gender rigid people or try to “convert” them, but they required professionals to lead in the fight to remove any stigma and to lead in ensuring their full acceptance and inclusion legally as well as psychologically.
And over the years they’ve all only strengthened their statements.
For example, back in their 1988 statement:
The American Counseling Association opposes portrayals of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth and adults as mentally ill due to their sexual orientation; and supports the dissemination of accurate information about sexual orientation, mental health, and appropriate interventions in order to counteract bias that is based on ignorance or unfounded beliefs about same-gender sexual orientation.
And in 2019:
The American Psychiatric Association opposes discrimination against transgender people and calls for their civil rights to be protected.
And also in 2019 from the American Medical Association and 15 other professional associations:
Our organizations, which represent nearly 600,000 physicians and medical students, oppose any laws and regulations that discriminate against transgender and gender-diverse individuals or interfere in the confidential relationship between a patient and their physician.
So, it’s been settled. It’s not controversial to ethical professionals.
To add to this, all these organizations have also come out against anything called a “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy” that’s meant to change LGBTQ+ people. They say frankly that it’s not therapy at all.
On the contrary, the ethical thing for professionals to do, they all say, is not just to support LGBTQ+ people against such brainwashing but to advocate against it. As the American Psychological Association puts it to its membership:
It is important to challenge stigma and to take active steps toward supporting LGBTQ+ people. Here are some ways that you can help:
- Urge your elected officials to support legislation that will prohibit licensed mental health professionals from using “conversion therapy” or change efforts. Such legislation may be at the federal, state, or local level. As of June 2019, 18 states have acted laws to protect minors from “conversion therapy.”
- Support policies that end discriminatory practices in your community.
- Urge elected officials to pass consumer protection laws that protect the public against these change efforts.
- Advocate for access to accurate information regarding LGBTQ+ individuals, as well as change efforts. This helps challenge harmful attitudes and stigma.
- Reach out to your state, provincial, or territorial psychological association and/or your state equality organization to join ongoing work to promote wellbeing for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, including LGBTQ+ people.
What this all means, first, is that when a so-called counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, or other claimant to psychological expertise does not advocate for LGBTQ+ affirmation, as their professional associations require, they are professionally unethical. And there is no doubt about that in the minds of their associations.
It means, the arguments are over, the case is closed.
It means that we should not even be considering what any dissenters have to say.
It means we should never ever repeat the use of the word “therapy” after words like “reparative” and “conversion” or any sexual orientation change or gender identity change efforts that amount to the attempted brainwashing of LGBTQ+ people.
And all this information is online and much of it settled for decades.
So, it’s our job to call deviations from these professional standards what they are – not just alternative theories but professionally unethical bigotry that no longer needs debating.
The anti-LGBTQ+ “scientific” gobbledygook that disguises their prejudices is nothing more, and nothing less, than that.
Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas where he taught for 33 years and was department chair for six years, Robert N. Minor (he/him), M.A., Ph.D is the author of 8 books as well as numerous articles and contributions to edited volumes. He is an historian of religion with specialties in Biblical studies, Asian religions, religion and gender and religion and sexuality. His writing has been published in Whosoever since 2005 and he continues to speak and lead workshops around the country. In 1999 GLAAD awarded him its Leadership Award for Education, in 2012 the University of Kansas named him one of the University’s Men of Merit, in 2015 the American Men’s Studies Association gave him the Lifetime Membership Award, and in 2018 Missouri Jobs with Justice presented him with the Worker’s Rights Board Leadership Award. He resides in Kansas City, Missouri and is founder of The Fairness Project.