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'Ex-gay' proponent group NARTH's schism over bigoted columns

When the ex-gay groups start melting down, everyone benefits. The National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) is in a lot of hot water over comments made by two prominent “professionals” in its ranks and some are calling for a re-evaluation of the purpose of the organization.

The schism has made the mainstream media, and it makes the ex-gay movement look like bogus, dangerous entity that it is. (LA Times):

One psychiatrist called for allowing schoolchildren to shame and ridicule classmates who don’t act according to stereotypical gender roles. Another board member, a therapist, asserted that slaves may have been better off in chains than in “savage” Africa.

One of NARTH’s scientific advisors has quit in protest, and a prominent therapist has canceled his presentation at the group’s annual conference next month. Alan Chambers, who leads the nation’s largest support group for “ex-gays,” urged NARTH’s members to “think long and hard about the mission of the organization.”

Here’s one of the bleatings that got the organization into trouble.

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“There is another way, or other ways, to look at the race issue in America. Africa at the time of slavery was still primarily a jungle… Life there was savage … and those brought to America, and other countries, were in many ways better off.”
— Gerald Schoenewolf, a member of NARTH’s Science Advisory Committee.

Canadian psychiatrist Joseph Berger unloaded a truckload of crap that is equally mind-blowing:

The notion that a person is really someone of the opposite sex “trapped in the wrong body” is poetic stupidity. It doesn’t exist in reality. A person wishing to change their external manifestations to appear to be a person of the opposite sex is someone very unhappy with being their “real” sex and/or believing in some idealized fantasy of how much better it is to be of the opposite sex.

…I suggest, indeed, letting children who wish go to school in clothes of the opposite sex — but not counseling other children to not tease them or hurt their feelings.

On the contrary, don’t interfere, and let the other children ridicule the child who has lost that clear boundary between play-acting at home and the reality needs of the outside world. Maybe, in this way, the child will re-establish that necessary boundary.”

— The wisdom of NARTH Scientific Advisory Committee member Joseph Berger, M.D., who feels that society is causing gender identity confusion among children — and the cure includes letting kids be bullied for being different.

When the sh*t hit the fan on sites like Ex Gay Watch (here and here) and Wayne Besen’s Truth Wins Out, NARTH President Joseph Nicolosi not only didn’t apologize (he said some of the comments by Berger and Schoenwolf “were poorly phrased”), he kept both of these NARTH members on the board. That’s not going to fly.

“This puts a real spotlight on what we’re dealing with…. This organization is incredibly reckless and irresponsible,” said Wayne Besen, a gay-rights activist who founded a nonprofit, Truth Wins Out, to keep tabs on the ex-gay movement.

NARTH’s premise that homosexuality is a disorder that can be overcome through therapy is routinely cited by activists pushing to get the “ex-gay” perspective into public schools. Besen said he hoped the controversies would slow that movement by discrediting the Encino-based organization — and its claim to take a scientific approach to homosexuality. “This is a group of people with some very peculiar, if not dangerous, views,” Besen said.

Note that Daddy D and Exodus are still on board with NARTH.

The two groups that regularly stage conferences on “overcoming homosexuality” — Focus on the Family and Exodus International — have both affirmed their support for Nicolosi. But Chambers, the president of Exodus, made clear he disagreed sharply with how NARTH has handled the controversy.

Wait. What kind of non-statement is that by Chambers? He’s saying he supports the president of the organization, but only the spin was bad? How could you successfully spin the bigoted, ignorant rants of Berger and Schoenewolf, Alan?

Former NARTH committee member David Blakeslee, resigned in protest; and Warren Throckmorton pulled out of NARTH’s annual conference, further diminishing the organization. Tiny violin anyone?

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding