National and local leaders call on Elder Packer to correct dangerous comments.
Salt Lake City - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, - in partnership with Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons, Equality Utah, and the Utah Pride Center, today delivered 150,000 petitions to respectfully ask Elder Boyd K. Packer, president of the Mormon Church's Quorum of Twelve Apostles, to correct his inaccurate and dangerous statements calling same-sex attraction "impure and unnatural," claiming that it can be corrected and characterizing same-sex marriage as immoral. The delivery comes as over the past month, a number of teenagers across the country have taken their own lives as a result of anti-gay bullying.
"We're here today to tell Elder Packer and those in the Mormon Church hierarchy who agree with him that his statements are both factually and scientifically wrong and that more importantly, they are dangerous and are putting millions of lives in great danger," said HRC President Joe Solmonese at this morning's press conference.
Elder Packer's assertion that sexual orientation can be changed has been debunked by both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association. Both organizations have concluded that same-sex attraction is normal and that "reparative" therapy - like the kind being advocated by the Mormon Church - is unhealthy and harmful. Elder Packer or Church representatives have not corrected their statements in spite of the fact that they are dangerous and can result in self-loathing and potentially suicide by those struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity.
"I am personally and professionally concerned that Elder Packer's statements can be viewed as stigmatizations towards non-heterosexual oriented individuals and groups, and consequently reinforce or possibly increase further discrimination, hostility, or even violence towards non-heterosexual oriented individuals and groups." said licensed Utah psychologist Kirk Dansie, who also reiterated the professional scholarship that debunks Elder Packer's claims. The full text of Dansie's remarks follow.
Also appearing at the event were Utah philanthropist Bruce Bastian, Affirmation President David Melson, Equality Utah Executive Director Brandie Balken, Utah Clinical Social Worker Melissa Bird and Utah Pride Center Executive Director Valerie Larabee.
Full text of Psychologist Kirk Dansie's remarks:
My name is Kirk Dansie, and I am a licensed psychologist in Utah. As a psychologist, I would like to reiterate the readily and publically available information from the American Psychological Association regarding sexual orientation. [See: www.apa.org]
While I respect the importance of all diverse religious beliefs to individuals, including Elder Boyd K. Packer's right to express his religious beliefs as he chooses, the currently available research and clinical literature demonstrate that non-heterosexual attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality, regardless of sexual orientation.
Sexual orientation is not simply one personal characteristic within an individual. Currently, there are no clear findings, scientific or otherwise, that support sexual orientation as being determined by any one particular factor or set of factors. Contrary to the claims of Sexual Orientation Change Effort practitioners and advocates, through a systematic review of the peer-reviewed scientific literature, the American Psychological Association's task force concluded that efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm.
Non-heterosexual orientations are not disorders. Research has not found any associations between any sexual orientation and psychopathology. Heterosexual and non-heterosexual orientations are considered normal variations of human sexuality despite the persistence of stereotypes that a non-heterosexual orientation is somehow disturbed.
Mainstream medical and mental health organizations abandoned classifications of non-heterosexual orientation as a mental disorder long ago. Non-heterosexual individuals are fully capable of forming stable, committed relationships and families that are equivalent to heterosexual relationships and families in essential respects.
Extensive prejudice, discrimination, and violence towards non-heterosexual identified people and groups have historically been widespread. Non-heterosexual identified people continue to experience strong negative attitudes, behaviors, and other forms of hostility in many current societies, including Utah. These types of stigmatizations can have a variety of negative consequences on individuals throughout their lifespan.
I am personally and professionally concerned that Elder Packer's statements can be viewed as stigmatizations towards non-heterosexual oriented individuals and groups, and consequently reinforce or possibly increase further discrimination, hostility, or even violence towards non-heterosexual oriented individuals and groups.
As a psychologist and human being, I encourage all individuals and religious leaders to remain open to integrating scientifically sound reliable knowledge and valid research towards a positive understanding of such complex human characteristics such as sexual orientation.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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