Our final post on the intense study of Jones and Yarhouse, called Ex-Gays?, asks if the attempt to change sexual orientation and behavior is harmful to the person?
The American Psychological Association warns therapists about the potential danger and harm to clients if the therapist seeks to help a person change sexual orientation. So they studied distress factors in those seeking change, including spiritual functioning, and they especially studied those who have not returned to a gay identity but who are achieving significant change or continuing to progress in change.
Their conclusion: “we find no evidence that the type of attempt to change sexual orientation studied here is harmful” (332). Once again, a chp full of tables about data and results.
Some further results:
1. Some report significant change but not everyone or anyone can change.
2. Even for those who may be called “conversions,” they do not have sufficient evidence to suggest anyone moves from utterly homosexual to utterly heterosexual. This population remains complicated and even equivocal.
3. They do not refute anecdotal reports that specific individuals could not change.
4. This study does not speak directly to professionally-based reparative or conversion therapies.
5. Success in changing orientation does not constitute evidence of divine intervention.
6. They cannot demonstrate that the changes are permanent or pervasive.
7. They cannot shed light on which methods of Exodus International were most effective.
8. They do not know which variables predict success or failure.
9. They cannot conclude that individuals are not harmed by sexual orientation change therapies.
Persons who want to change need to be respected for their intent to change.