'Ex-Gays' Study Central to Debate; Sex-Ed Course Still Unresolved
Byline: Jon Ward, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
A 2003 study on whether homosexuals can change their sexual orientation has become a central issue in the Montgomery County sex-education debate.
The study conducted by psychiatrist Robert L. Spitzer of Columbia University found that some homosexuals "can and do change."
Interviewing 200 former homosexuals, Dr. Spitzer conducted the study in response to a request by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in 2000 to determine the risks and benefits of "reparative therapy."
Reparative therapy is psychiatric or religious counseling that former homosexuals, or "ex-gays," say has helped them overcome "unwanted same-sex attraction."
"There is evidence that change in sexual orientation following some form of reparative therapy does occur in some gay men and lesbians," Dr. Spitzer, 73, reported.
Groups seeking to influence the development of Montgomery County's sex-education curriculum have argued over the validity of the study, which was published as a peer-reviewed article in the October 2003 issue of the "Archives of Sexual Behavior."
The executive director of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX), a Northern Virginia-based group, said Dr. Spitzer's study is "critical" and shows that "people have the right to self-determination and that change is possible."
Dr. Spitzer "has impeccable credentials. He helped write and edit the [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders]," said Regina Griggs, referring to a psychiatric manual that grew from 150 pages to 900 pages in the 13 years that Dr. Spitzer oversaw its publication.
But speakers at a Sunday forum sponsored by Teachthefacts.org dismissed the Spitzer study.
Dr. Paul A. Wertsch of the American Medical Association (AMA) said the study was biased because it drew most of its subjects from ex-gay therapists or ministries. …