- June 20, 2013
Post submitted by Paul Guequierre, HRC Deputy Communications Director
Yesterday, Exodus International, an organization which for years advocated for and practiced dangerous so-called therapies to change people’s sexual orientation, announced it is closing its doors for good. In a written statement, the organization’s president Alan Chambers apologized to the gay community for undue judgment and dishonesty.
“We are encouraged that Exodus International has made the right decision to close down their doors and spare the next generation of the psychological and spiritual trauma they have caused to so many – particularly vulnerable young people,” said Dr. Sharon Groves, director of the HRC Religion and Faith Program. "This is a welcome first step in honestly addressing the harm the organization and its leaders have caused over the past 37 years. Now we need them to take the next step of leadership and persuade all other religious-based institutions that they got it wrong. This is the right kind of reparative work that is left for them to do."
The majority of people of faith and a growing number of religious leaders support LGBT equality. A poll of people of faith across America commissioned by HRC found 70 percent of Christians agree that when religious leaders condemn LGBT people it does more harm than good. In a separate 2011 poll, only 24 percent of people believed gay people can be made straight through psychotherapy or prayer.
In Chambers’ apology statement, he says for years he wasn’t honest about the feelings of same-sex attraction that never left him and for being dishonest about the real ability to change one’s sexual orientation. Efforts to change sexual orientation or gender expression have been debunked as junk science, and have also been proven harmful to children and adults. All major medical and mental health organizations have denounced the practice including: the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American School Counselor Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Pan American Health Organization. Learn more at www.hrc.org/reparativetherapy.
“Exodus was the oldest and largest pseudo-religious organization telling vulnerable people there was something wrong with them, when in fact they are God’s children,” said Groves. “But the truth remains there are other organizations out there perpetuating the same myths, telling young people they aren’t loved and perfect the way they are, and causing grave harm in so many people.”