Gay student group to protest conference: "homosexuality is not a mental illness"
(WEST PALM BEACH, FL) In a bold move, a group of south Florida university students have set out to discredit the few remnants of the last professional association to claim that homosexuality is a treatable mental illness.
Traditionally, activists have only set out to mute the message of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH,) but these students have decided to initiate an action that will attempt to put NARTH practitioners out of business, once and for all.
Founded in 1992 by Dr. Charles Socarides, NARTH describes itself as scientific organization that offers hope to those who struggle with unwanted homosexuality.
“As an organization, we disseminate educational information, conduct and collect scientific research, promote effective therapeutic treatment, and provide referrals to those who seek our assistance,” reports the NARTH website.
“Today, children from kindergarten through college are being taught that homosexuality is a normal, healthy, lifestyle option with no disadvantages other than society's disapproval. Sexually confused teenagers are encouraged to investigate homosexual relationships when they are too young to make critical lifestyle decisions. If they seek counseling, they are told that change from homosexuality is impossible.
“It is our aim to provide a different perspective. We want to clarify that homosexuality is not ‘inborn,’ and that gays are not 'a people,' in the same sense that an ethnic group is ‘a people’--but instead, they are simply individuals who exhibit particular patterns of feelings and behavior.”
NARTH became a protest target for the students from Lynn University (LU) and Florida Atlantic University (FAU) when they scheduled their annual convention for Nov 20-22 at the West Palm Beach Marriott Hotel.
The three-day convention will host a number of workshops about the clinical approach to the treatment of SSA, or same sex attraction. Scheduled lecture topics include Protecting the Child, Preserving the Family, Honoring Life, Leaving Homosexuality; The Pastoral Care for Homosexual Attractions; and Impending Threats to Reparative Therapy: Where Do We Go From Here?
The students will focus attention on a 28 page booklet entitled “Just Just the Facts about Sexual Orientation and Youth - A Primer for Principals, Educators, and School Personnel", which debunks reorientation therapy. The booklet is supported by 480,000 professionals from every major mental health, medical, and educational association in America.
Another supporting argument came last August when the American Psychological Association (APA) Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation released the findings of their 18 month long research project. The 138 page report confirmed that after hundreds of studies and years of observing client behavior, that "sexual orientation change efforts are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm".
Additionally, last month in an article appearing in the Monitor on Psychology, APA reporter Christopher Munsey stated that The APA Task Force had concluded there is "insufficient evidence that such [reorientation] treatments work."
NARTH, however, is calling on its fellow mental-health associations to stop falsely claiming to have "scientific knowledge" that settles the issue of homosexuality.
“There is no such thing as a gay gene”, reports the NARTH website, “and there is no evidence to support the idea that homosexuality is simply genetic. However, biological influences may indeed influence some people toward homosexuality. There may be genetic factors in some people -- both of which would affect gender identity, and therefore sexual orientation. But none of these factors mean that homosexuality is normal and a part of human design, or that it is inevitable in such people, or that it is unchangeable.”
Lester Leavitt, spokesman for the LU and FAU students staging the protest, feels the NARTH organization's findings and requests of the mental healthcare community, pose a danger to the LGBT community.
“NARTH is asking the APA and American Counseling Association (ACA) to back off on accusations of ethics violations and allow them to continue to do their research," said Leavitt. "We cannot stand by while parents are taking gay teenagers to a therapist who will put them at risk of suicide or into a lifetime of depression."
The protest is assembling in downtown West Palm Beach at 10:00am on Saturday, Nov 21st.