Ex-Gay Watch Editor Misrepresents NARTH, Misinforms Dr. Francis S. Collins
Ex-Gay Watch Editor Misrepresents NARTH,
Misinforms Dr. Francis S. Collins
-The NARTH Executive Committee
In April, 2007, NARTH posted a peer-reviewed article which considered what science could and could not say about the genesis of homosexuality. The article basically focused on whether not homosexuality could be explained by a simple biological theory. The article cited a number of studies and scientists, including Dr. Francis S. Collins, and basically, concluded that evidence for a simple biological theory of homosexuality was lacking. The article made no mention of alterability of homosexuality.
Through the Freedom of Information Act, NARTH acquired correspondence that indicates that its mission and purposes have been horrifically distorted by Ex-Gay Watch and that Dr. Collins was provided with inaccurate information about NARTH. The Editor of Ex-Gay Watch sent a lengthy letter to Dr. Collins, confessing admiration for him, offering adulation and praise. The editor then chronicled his own personal journey from atheism to becoming a believer, describing himself as similar to Dr. Collins in terms of his religious views, and assuring Dr. Collins that Ex-Gay Watch was not an extremist organization. The editor describes his personal experience with pain “inflicted by those whose agenda overshadows their morality,” falsely indicating that this scientific article was being used to harm self-identified gays and lesbians. He then proceeds to describe NARTH as an anti-gay organization whose stand is that “homosexuality can be reversed with a high degree of success (some even saying 100%) or that homosexuality can be prevented (heaping guilt on parents for whatever they’ve done wrong).”
Of course, such propaganda is used by the Ex-Gay Watch editor to malign, discredit and marginalize those with whom he disagrees. A quick review of the NARTH website demonstrates to the reasonable reader that NARTH is a professional organization dedicated to science and the ethical practice of psychological care. NARTH fully supports the freedom of individuals to claim a gay identity as well as the freedom of clients to explore and pursue change in unwanted sexual attractions. NARTH makes no claims regarding treatment success; rather, simply refers to the scientific and clinical data.
Nowhere does the Editor of Ex-Gay Watch represent NARTH as an organization that supports an individual’s freedom to claim a gay identity. Nowhere does the Editor describe NARTH as a professional organization that advocates respect for gay and ex-gay alike. Nowhere does this editor even come close to a fair and accurate description of NARTH’ s mission and purpose.
In response to the collective monologue from the Ex-Gay Watch Editor, Dr. Collins responds as any reputable scientist would. He states, “It troubles me greatly to learn that anything I have written would cause anguish for you or others who are seeking answers to the basis of homosexuality.” Then Dr. Collins offers an observation that the words used in the NARTH piece were “juxtaposed in a way that suggests a somewhat different conclusion that I intended.” Dr. Collins provides no further information about how his words were juxtaposed or what the different conclusion was. The NARTH article was examined by external peer reviewers again and no evidence was found to support the afore-mentioned observation. The article was carefully referenced, followed sequentially and a summary statement was taken from Dr. Collins’s own conclusion. No mention was made of alterability of homosexuality in this article.
Most remarkably, the additional information provided by Dr. Collins in this email exchange, offers the exact conclusion that the NARTH article does. Dr. Collins reiterates, “But the fact that the answer is not a 100% also suggests that other factors besides DNA must be involved.” Dr. Collins further states: “That certainly does not imply, however, that those other undefined factors are inherently alterable.” Of course, that does not imply that those other factors are NOT alterable either.
The conclusion of this NARTH article was that a simple biological theory was insufficient to explain the genesis of homosexuality. This conclusion finds support in the excellent reviews of Byne and Parsons (1993), Friedman and Downey (1993), the 2008 statement from the American Psychological Association and in the recent succinct summary of Dr. Francis S. Collins himself: when the world’s expert on genetics and the human genome is asked if homosexuality is hardwired by DNA and his response and is that homosexuality “is genetically influenced but not hardwired by DNA” and that “whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations,” how much clearer can you be?
On the matter of the genesis of homosexuality, NARTH and Dr. Francis S. Collins fully agree: homosexuality is not hardwired by DNA.
Byne, W. & Parsons, B. (1993), “Human sexual orientation: the biologic theories reappraised.” Archives of General Psychiatry, 50, p. 229-239.
Collins, F. S. (2006). The language of god, a scientist presents evidence for belief, New York: Free Press, p. 257-263.
Friedman, R.C. and Downey, J. I. (1993), “Neurobiology and sexual orientation: current relationships,” Journal of Neuropsychiatry, 5, p. 131-153.