Inconclusive Results of Ex-Gay Study Cause Dispute

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com October 04 2011 2:25 PM ET

Many are disputing the results of a study conducted by two psychologists affiliated with religious universities who claim that people can change their sexual orientation after six or more years of reparative therapy.

Mark Yarhouse of Regent University and Stanton Jones at Wheaton College published a study in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, documenting the progress of 98 people who sought to change their sexual orientation at Exodus Ministries, CNN reports. Before the end of the study, 35 people dropped out of the program, citing that they felt cured of all "homosexual inclinations." At the end of the study, 23% of the remaining people said they were heterosexual, and 30% decided to turn to chastity. The study's authors found those figures to be evidence that the study contradicts "the commonly expressed view that sexual orientation is not changeable."

Though the American Psychological Association has condemned such therapies since 2005, other notable psychologists are weighing in on the new study.

Eli Coleman of the University of Minnesota Medical School's human sexuality program told CNN that any change from ex-gay therapy is superficial.

"You can get behavioral changes, but that's not orientation change," he said.

Jack Drescher of New York Medical College said the study could be confusing sexual orientation, which refers to the types of people a person finds attractive, with sexual identity, which refers to a person's feelings and expression on his or her orientation.