Jones & Yarhouse had already published their paper back in 2011 but I haven’t set up an email service to get the latest papers on sexual orientation or conversion therapy so I only discovered it now.
In short: Jones & Yarhouse report that they observed a conversion from homosexual to heterosexual in their subjects which were all recruited from Exodus International. You know that Exodus International which the researchers describe as:
Exodus sees itself as articulating a Christian perspective that neither rejects homosexual persons nor embraces gay identity as an acceptable norm. (Jones & Yarhouse, page 408)
Despite having sampled only from Exodus International the researchers took the effort to quote the American Psychological Association’s (APA) best-practice standards for the design of efficacy research which include among other points:
employ sampling methods that allow proper generalization;
address preexisting and cooccurring conditions, mental health problems, other interventions, and life histories to test competing explanations for any changes; (page 406)
Who would have thought that evangelical Psychologists who are working for evangelical institutions have a sense of humour? Apart from the obviously very narrow sample it was interesting to note that the paper didn’t make any reference to potentially pre-existing (mental) health conditions despite the fact that some of the sampled self-identified homosexuals assume that their sexual orientation is a result of a difficult parent-child relationship or sexual abuse.
The rest of the study which lacks a control group can be described as attempting to present figures which may serve as evidence that sexual orientation can be altered. To aid this aim Chastity (with occasional homosexual feelings) in subjects was interpreted as a success. I can’t help but think that those successfully converted people are still gay who just don’t engage in sexual activity any longer. I also can’t help but classify this definition of “ex-gay” as an insult to every reader’s intelligence and the best thing is that I don’t even need to twist definitions.
The “success rate” in percent (includes chaste gay people and self-reported heterosexuals) is 53% with reported conversion only contributing 23%. By the way people with a self-reported “gay identity” make up 20%. So the results in brief summary: the group of subjects who now has a gay identity despite trying not to be gay and despite the pressure upon them to change (by Exodus International) is nearly as big as the group of newly self-identified heterosexuals. Go figure….
What I found striking is the fact that several subjects withdrew prematurely from the study and mostly claimed that they were now heterosexual. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have a control group or at least contrast the drop out rates with rates for so-called gay-affirmative counselling? How many people with gay-affirmative counsellors out of a sudden get the idea that they’re now heterosexual and withdraw prematurely? Maybe the narrow sample group of evangelical Christians of whom more than 90% stated that they were born-again Christians just have the tendency to claim that they’re straight? But that’s just an idea of mine just like the idea that chaste gay people really shouldn’t be counted as heterosexuals.
What would I make out of the 23% of newly self-identified heterosexuals? I can’t make anything out of the data like everyone who at least passed the statistics module in their fresher’s year knows. Unless of course a person is completely driven by an ideology it is inexplicable why anyone would want to do a study without a control. (Note the irony in the previous sentence)
It is impossible to judge (relative) success without a suitable control to set baseline levels. Do gay evangelical Christians who are treated with a placebo-ex-gay therapy still claim to have become heterosexual? The premature withdrawal of several subjects who claimed to have become heterosexual out of a sudden is an indicator that evangelical Christians who previously had problems with their sexual orientation and hence sought counselling may exhibit a certain tendency to claim a change in sexual orientation.
Now how can the research by two ideology-driven researchers who try to “repair” gay people who failed to implement one of the most basic steps (the control) which subsequently invalidates all the result yet brazenly declare that they managed to turn some subjects straight be summarised?
OH, yes, of course (I bet some of you have already done so):