PFOX Distorts Dr. Spitzer On Their New Website

Jim Burroway

February 14th, 2007

This is pretty outrageous. Teach The Facts noticed that the website for PFOX (Parents and Families of Ex-Gays and Gays) has gotten quite a makeover. (It’s also a severely jumbled mess if you try to view it using Firefox or Safari) And in the process, they placed a video of Dr. Robert Spitzer front and center of the web page.

(For those of you at work, please note that the video loads and plays automatically, and depending on your browser you may have difficulty disabling it. The sound may be loud, and may be annoying or distracting for people working nearby. This is a huge no-no among professional web designers, who would never do this sort of thing out of simple courtesy to their visitors. But then PFOX has never been known for courteous behavior.)

In that video clip, Dr. Spitzer is heard to say:

The DSM stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it’s a publication of the American Psychiatric Association, and it’s kind of the Bible of psychiatry. I came up with a definition in 1973 that made it possible to argue that homosexuality was not a mental disorder. I mean, the gay activists have taken the viewpoint that from a political/strategic point of view they do better if they can convince society at large that once you’re homosexual you can never change. Now, I can appreciate that that helps them politically, and I’m sympathetic towards their political goals, but I think it’s just not true.

Dr. Spitzer has been at the center of the ex-gay controversy ever since he presented preliminary findings in 2000 of 200 ex-gays who reported some change in their sexual orientation. He revealed that it took him some sixteen months of repeated searching to find the two-hundred participants for the study, and even then, nearly a fifth of those participants were in leadership positions of ex-gay ministries and many more made public pronouncements about their “transformation” at church functions. The process of determining the degree of change for these participants consisted of a single telephone interview.

While he concluded that it was possible for some very highly-motivated people to undergo some sort of change in sexual orientation, the study’s many weaknesses prompted the Archives of Sexual Behavior to take the very unusual step of publishing some twenty-five peer review commentaries when they published the study in 2003. Most of those commentaries were highly critical of the study’s methodology and conclusions.

PFOX has a lot of nerve cherry-picking that single quote from Dr. Spitzer. What they don’t reveal is that as recently as this past Monday The New York Times reported:

But after enduring an avalanche of criticism from peers who said he had given too much credence to the accounts of his subjects, many of whom were leaders of ex-gay ministries, Dr. Spitzer now says many advocates of sexual reorientation have misrepresented his views.

“Although I suspect change occurs, I suspect it’s very rare,” he said. “Is it 1 percent, 2 percent? I don’t think it’s 10 percent.”

Dr. Spitzer has previously condemned misappropriations of his study by anti-gay lobbyists and activists in their efforts to limit civil liberties for gays and lesbians. It’s impossible to imagine that Dr. Spitzer would lend his endorsement to an organization like PFOX, which is among the more notorious for its unethical practices.

You may remember that PFOX was embarrassed last July when then-Board President Richard Cohen demonstrated his highly unorthodox conversion therapy techniques on national television. Cohen, who had been permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association two years earlier, finally left the organization, although it’s unclear whether he resigned or was forced out.

PFOX is now headed by Regina Griggs, who I saw at last Saturday’s Love Won Out conference in Phoenix at the PFOX booth. Love Won Out was jointly presented by Focus on the Family and Exodus. This brings to mind the following questions: Does Focus on the Family endorse PFOX’s blatant misappropriation of Dr. Spitzer’s image, voice, and good name to create a fraudulent endorsement of PFOX’s methods and message? And will Exodus, of which PFOX is a member ministry, condemn PFOX and strip that organization of its annual certification for carrying out such fraudulent representations?

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