Conservative Christian activists that have been active in fighting gay rights initiatives are increasingly turning their attention to youth issues involving homosexuality.
The liberal Village Voice (May 8) reports that the leading Christian right group Focus on the Family has launched a “Love Won Out: Addressing, Understanding, and Preventing Homosexuality” a program that tours the country seeking to help parents, teachers and others detect early signs of homosexuality and prevent their development in youth.
“Meanwhile, other activists have taken the battle over teen sexuality to the courts, suing and countersuing over how to handle sexual orientation in schools,” writes Sharon Lerner. She adds that the legal efforts to stop after-hour gay-straight student alliances (where students talk about sexual orientation) from organizing in public schools have failed, so conservative activists are taking the battle to in-school education.
Lerner writes that a more basic reason for the new activism targeted to youth is that as the evangelical Christian efforts to convert homosexuals to heterosexuality through ex-gay ministries have not met with much success, they are turning their energies to the prevention of homosexuality. Yet evangelical ministries appear more optimistic than defeated, particularly after a new study was released in May suggesting that “highly motivated” gays can become heterosexual.
The report by Dr. Robert Spitzer, presented at the American Psychiatric Association, found that 66 percent of the men and 44 percent of the women he interviewed had achieved “good heterosexual functioning” after seeking help to change their sexual orientation through Christian ex-gay ministries. The Columbia University psychiatrist spearheaded the APA’s 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. Ex-gay activists say the study legitimizes the healing claims of conversion therapy.
Gay-rights groups say Spitzer’s study is tainted because most subjects in the research study had been recruited through Christian groups opposed to homosexuality. The National Catholic Register (May 27) reports that at the same conference, another five year study of 202 subjects undergoing conversion therapy experienced higher rates of failure — 178 out of 202 subjects failed in such therapies, with most reporting emotional pain from the therapies.
(National Catholic Register, 33 Rosotto Dr., Hamden, CT 06514)