Wednesday, April 18, 2018

To promote conversion therapy, Peter Sprigg claims that being gay is a health hazard

Peter Sprigg
Peter Sprigg seems determined to ensure that his employer, Family Research Council, is designated a hate group in perpetuity
Wednesday, WMFY, a CBS affiliate in Greensboro, NC has a very good piece on conversion “therapy.” According to the article, nearly 50 bills have been introduced in 24 states targeting the discredited practice. 11 states plus the District of Columbia already have laws on the books and there are more than 40 municipal bans.

But where oh where does one turn for counterpoint? To The Sprigg of course:
Foes of bans say there is no precedent to outlaw this kind of therapy. "We think people should have the freedom to pursue their own goals in therapy, and therapists should be free to assist them," said Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council.

There are only "anecdotal" accounts of conversion therapy being harmful, Sprigg said, and some people may sincerely be seeking an intervention. "Some people experience same-sex attraction that is unwanted. Maybe others want to avoid physical health risks or have strong religious convictions and want help to conform their behavior to religion."
WFMY failed to mention that Family Research Council is designated a hate group by Southern Poverty Law Center. One of the reasons for that could be that Peter Sprigg says (and was just quoted as saying) that being gay is a health hazard. Being gay is not unhealthy. Having unprotected sex might be unhealthy. More importantly, this kind of bigotry is extremely unhealthy for LGBT people.

Sprigg is intentionally confusing sexual orientation with sex in order to posit the preposterous notion that sexual orientation is a choice. Taking one of Sprigg's examples, should someone have a religious conflict, they would not require conversion therapy to be celibate. They would still be gay. It seems like a very high price to pay for devotion to ancient texts but it is still an option.

Prior to that, Sprigg said that this is about the freedom to pursue one's own goals in therapy. It overlooks the fact that LGBT people do not need therapy. Furthermore, some kid being “converted” is most likely in the chair to achieve their parents' goals, not those of the child.

Real freedom is achieved when one is free to be who they are. One of these days an interviewer is actually going to ask Sprigg what he means by “experiencing same-sex attraction.” Is that the same thing as being gay or is it different? Is Sprigg claiming that the gay exists in intermittent bursts? Or is the phrase just sophistry?

Overall, Sprigg wants people to take for granted that conversion therapy works. It does not work and there is no peer-reviewed research published to a respectable outlet to suggest that it works.

With that in mind, SPLC hit on what might be the best case for banning conversion therapy. In New Jersey a jury determined that conversion therapy constitutes consumer fraud. Advocates are unable to offer any proof that it does what is purports to do. Arthur Goldberg's JONAH was put out of business. At least they thought so at the time.

Conversion therapy exists primarily to justify discrimination. It is necessary for people like Sprigg to subscribe to its efficacy in the absence of any evidence. There is no such thing as faith-based medical science. Sprigg seems convinced that his god did not create LGBT people. Now he is out to convince others but reality has a stubborn way of pushing back. As WFMY points out, there are going to be many more bans in the future. The religious right will fight each and every one of them. We have facts and science on our side.

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