Sexuality is fluid and it's important that people get to define it for themselves.
- Sexuality is fluid and ever-changing, and our understanding of it has come a long way since the invention of the Kinsey Scale in the 1940's.
- Defining your own sexuality is important as it is a uniquely personal experience.
- While creating labels for yourself can help you better understand your orientation and build connections along your sexual journey, it's important not to place labels on others. Be open to hearing how they see themselves and respectful enough to refer to them on those terms.
Defining lesser-known orientations along the spectrum<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzE2OTIwOS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNTYxNzk5Mn0.NF95JhhXPcLdT5k6fMP54AQYvFdZiPK3aVQ90Wa9g0o/img.png?width=980" id="bfd51" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5d68bd6890a288fd97a3fb5e6724c78d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Unofficial Kinsey Scale test (an official test does not exist, according to the Kinsey Institute)
The answer depends on how we choose to balance religious freedom, social inclusion, and the search for self-identity.
- Most medical and mental health organizations have condemned conversion therapy as injurious and lacking support of empirical evidence.
- Today, 19 states and many cities have passed laws protecting youths from the practice.
- However, lawsuits and pushback by religious organizations have limited what laws can be passed.
What exactly is conversion therapy?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjg3NDUwNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNDAwNzYzMH0.YZVSojBaaw0G6N_-SZ0zw12GuW0KsjEvLfCijSnBKAQ/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=12%2C0%2C12%2C0&height=700" id="7f9f5" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f614dbf1eca2e577273a38d5355390e1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Though former president Obama floated the idea of a nationwide ban on conversion therapy, it never came to fruition during this term.
Is there evidence that conversion therapy works?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjg3NDQ4Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMzAyODk0OX0.H4bV_wfsUI58db-m9HZYIpa-D2IXJ2WURyC3EB9of4I/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C173%2C0%2C39&height=700" id="1980c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ffd8cb2a8b0410f9543d7832b3ae909a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
In 2017, Dannel Malloy, then governor of Connecticut, signed into law the state's ban against practicing conversion therapy on minors.<p>All told, 698,000 LGBT adults in the U.S. have received conversion therapy in some form, according to <a href="https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Conversion-Therapy-LGBT-Youth-Update-June-2019.pdf" target="_blank">a Williams Institute report</a>. While some studies and testimonials purport to have successfully altered some of their sexual orientations, such claims crumble when one examines the slipshod methodology and flawed data gathering.</p><p>"No credible evidence exists that any mental health intervention can reliably and safely change sexual orientation; nor, from a mental health perspective does sexual orientation need to be changed," states the APA in <a href="https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/news-releases/apa-reiterates-strong-opposition-to-conversion-therapy" target="_blank">its position statement</a>.</p><p>In <a href="http://www.drdoughaldeman.com/doc/ScientificExamination.pdf" target="_blank">an examination of the evidence</a>, Haldeman found several methodological flaws. These included using only clinical samples, a lack of replicability, poor assessment of sexual orientation, and outcomes substantiated by internal validation rather than external data.</p><p>Many studies, for example, hang their results on either therapist impressions or self-reporting. But such measurements cannot prove conversion. Therapists may cite a momentary drop in homosexual arousal as a full-fledged cure, while demeaned patients may report conversion in a bid to acquire personal and social validation.</p><p>"This reiterates one of the major objections to conversion studies: These interventions do not shift sexual orientation at all," Haldeman writes. "<a target="_blank">Individuals undergoing such treatments do not emerge heterosexually inclined; rather, they become shamed, conflicted, and fearful about their homosexual feelings."</a></p><p>Beyond a lack of methodological rigor, conversion therapy houses <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5040471/" target="_blank">many ethical concerns</a>. These include patient blaming, patient abandonment, indiscriminate treatments, breaches of confidentiality, and building informed consent on the subjective beliefs of the practitioner, not medical consensus.</p><p>These practices violate the ethical standards adopted by most professional organizations, and like the APA, <a href="https://www.hrc.org/resources/the-lies-and-dangers-of-reparative-therapy" target="_blank">many have issued statements</a> condoning its use. Among them: the American College of Physicians, the American Counseling Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American School Health Association, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.</p>
Medical consensus versus religious freedom?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="iAU9xTkK" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="f5c5615069c170211a07b6dd77d0e8f0"> <div id="botr_iAU9xTkK_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/iAU9xTkK-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/iAU9xTkK-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/iAU9xTkK-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>Given the history, the lack of evidence, the harm done, the ethics violated, and the changing times—given <em>all of this</em>—one would think a universal ban was soon to come. But that doesn't appear to be the case.</p><p>Remember that New York City ordinance? <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2019/09/13/why-nycs-council-made-painful-decision-repeal-its-ban-conversion-therapy/" target="_blank">The city council repealed it in 2019</a> after the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian advocacy group, <a href="https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/schwartz-v.-city-of-new-york/schwartz-v-city-of-new-york---complaint.pdf?sfvrsn=a8d0354_6" target="_blank">filed a lawsuit</a> against the ordinance. The group claimed the ban infringed on people's freedom of speech and religion.</p><p>"All New Yorkers and all Americans deserve the right to private conversations, free from government control," Roger Brooks, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, said in <a href="https://www.adflegal.org/detailspages/press-release-details/nyc-council-votes-to-repeal-law-that-censors-psychotherapist-s-private-conversations-with-patients" target="_blank">a statement</a>. "By trying to regulate and censor private sessions between an adult and his counselor, New York City directly violated freedom of speech—a core right that the First Amendment protects."</p><p>Council members chose to repeal the ordinance rather than risk it going to the Supreme Court, where they feared the court's conservative alignment would set a precedent making future LGBTQ advocacy efforts more difficult.</p><p>And to gain backing from the Mormon church, <a href="https://apnews.com/d40028478077446195dbd139bd9a8575" target="_blank">the Utah bill</a> had to stipulate an exception for clergy, religious counselors, and any child's parent or grandparent who is also a mental health therapist. </p><p>"Progress is progress in this state. You kind of have to make some compromises," Justin Utley, a conversion therapy survivor, <a href="https://apnews.com/d40028478077446195dbd139bd9a8575" target="_blank">told the<em> Associated Press</em></a>. "My concern, though, is clergy who are licensed professionals having this ability to justify conversion therapy by claiming that they've turned off the switch and now are acting as a clergy member instead of a licensed professional. That's a very dangerous precedent."</p><p>Utley's concern is founded. A study published in <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00918369.2018.1538407" target="_blank">the <em>Journal of Homosexuality</em></a> found that attempts by family members and religious leaders to change an LGBT adolescent's sexual orientation can lead to multiple health and behavioral risks. The researchers found higher levels of depression compared to those who reported no conversion experience, as well as double rates of attempted suicide. Undergoing conversion therapy was also correlated with young LGBT adults attaining less education and lower socioeconomic status.</p><p>As Caitlin Ryan, director of the Family Acceptance Project and the study's lead author, said in <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181108130522.htm" target="_blank">a release</a>: "Although parents and religious leaders who try to change a child's LGBT identity may be motivated by attempts to 'protect' their children, these rejecting behaviors instead undermine an LGBT child's sense of self-worth, contribute to self-destructive behaviors that significantly increase risk and inhibit self-care, which includes constricting their ability to make a living."</p>
Can we find the balance?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjg3NDUxMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxODAxMDQzNn0.ljwxm9_EKbW_ZASZ2XMB941WGmKmRifpQX5xuWNqIEQ/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C374%2C0%2C375&height=700" id="863d2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f7aac6b534d7ae4d98dd2e6d91040186" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
An 2010 anti-gay protest in San Francisco.
Taking the fourth spot on Big Think's 2019 top 10 countdown is the question: Evolutionarily speaking, is being gay still something of an enigma?
- Big Think's fourth most popular video of 2019 features bioethicist Alice Dreger. She presents the idea that heterosexual people have been less interesting to scientists than gay people in terms of why they exist. This is because, evolutionarily speaking, being gay doesn't lead to a higher "higher reproductive fitness" — meaning, it doesn't lead to more babies.
- Huge and rigorous studies have proven the fraternal birth order effect: Statistically, if a mother has lots of pregnancies of males, every successive male child will be a little bit more likely to be gay. This is because the mother's immune system appears to react to the male fetus' hormones and may dampen them down.
- The Western view of gay and straight isn't the definitive definition. In Samoan culture, there is a third gender: fa'afafine. These are boys who are raised as girls; they become women culturally and partner with men, although they don't change their physical anatomy.
Sally Susman explains how to use truth-telling moments to your future benefit.
- The biggest decision of Pfizer executive Sally Susman's life was to come out as gay in 1984, when society was not as accepting as it is now.
- She was told she would never have a spouse, a career, or children; those were the fears told to her by the people who loved her most.
- Defying that prediction became her personal north star, and 31 years later she has done it. Susman used that truth-telling moment of coming out as a way to focus her ambitions and plant the seeds for her future.
The surprising results come from a new GLAAD survey.
- The survey found that 18- to 34-year-old non-LGBTQ Americans reported feeling less comfortable around LGBTQ people in a variety of hypothetical situations.
- The attitudes of older non-LGBTQ Americans have remained basically constant over the past few years.
- Overall, about 80 percent of Americans support equal rights for LGBTQ people.