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Sexual Orientation-Changing Programs Are Dangerous For Your Mental Health

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Up until 1975, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders listed homosexuality as a psychological disorder. However, programs still existed that claimed that they could make a gay person straight. Multiple programs were based on religious ideology, and said that homosexuality was a sin and a disease. For many individuals, these programs made them feel less than human if they did not change, or incredibly confused if they “went straight.”

Now, a report released by the American Psychological Association has echoed what people have thought for years: not only are these programs ineffective, but they are also dangerous for the person's mental health.

On Wednesday, August 5th, the American Psychological Association's Council of Representatives reached a decision that medical professionals are “not to recommend to their clients that they can change their sexual orientation through therapy or any other methods” (CNN). The mental health concerns that arose from the report were loss of sexual feeling, suicide, anxiety and depression as a cause of these sexual orientation switching programs. Results for this report were derived from 87 studies done between 1960 and 2007, and the panel was started two years ago in response to “a resurgence of groups that identified homosexuality as a defect or spiritual or moral failing” (CNN).

While most people are elated at the results, there is some backlash from the communities who have pushed for the “ex-gay” programs. In the CNN report, Alan Chambers, who runs one of these programs, argued that they are effective: “The fact is that there are tens of thousands of men and women just like me who once identified as gay. For me and for these people, the truth is change is possible.” While Chambers may claim success, others can testify to its inefficiency and mental health degradation. In the review done by the American Psychological Association, they found “serious methodological problems” in many of the programs.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.