People are born “gay” and can’t change, right?

That’s what homosexual activists, who seek to stigmatize disapproval of homosexual conduct as being equivalent to racism, have tried to persuade people to believe. And many have bought into that theory.

The “born gay, can’t change” paradigm is also at the heart of the current wave of attacks upon sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) or sexual reorientation therapy—that is, psychological counseling designed to help people overcome unwanted same-sex attractions.

First, California enacted a new law, SB 1172, to ban reorientation therapy for minors by licensed professionals. Then, a similar bill was introduced in New Jersey. Finally, a lawsuit was filed against a Jewish ex-gay organization and one of its affiliated counselors, charging that offers to help someone change their sexual orientation violate the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Law.

Since the focus of the California and New Jersey legislative efforts has been on minors, some may wonder—is there really such a thing as an ex-gay teenager?

I recently came across a dramatic answer in the scholarly literature. Here is the quote that jumped off the page at me:

In the data set of the longitudinal Add Health study, of the Wave I boys who indicated that they had exclusive same-sex romantic attraction, only 11% reported exclusive same-sex attraction 1 year later; 48% reported only opposite-sex attraction, 35% reported no attraction to either sex, and 6% reported attraction to both sexes (Udry & Chantala, 2005).[i]

I learned from the cited source that “the Wave I boys who indicated that they had exclusive same-sex romantic attraction” consisted of “69 boys [who] indicated that yes, they had ever had a romantic attraction to the same sex, and no, they had never had an attraction to the opposite sex.”[ii]

Got that? Remember, according to the “born gay, can’t change” paradigm, someone who is exclusively homosexual will always remain that way, and will remain so forever.

But what does the empirical evidence show? Not only did those who were exclusively homosexual not all remain so, but only 11% did—and that was only one year later. Some measure of change in sexual orientation—which many homosexual activists say is impossible, and never happens to anyone—is not only possible, but it is the norm for adolescents with same-sex attractions, having been experienced by 89% of the respondents only one year later.

While some pro-homosexual activists will concede that some measure of fluidity exists, they say that complete transformation—from exclusively homosexual to exclusively heterosexual—is not possible. Yet this kind of complete reversal of sexual orientation is exactly what was reported by almost half (48%) of the adolescent boys in this survey—and again, after only one year.

The last refuge of the homosexual activists in the face of this kind of evidence is to concede, “Well, yes, a person’s sexual orientation can change—but only by accident, not by trying to change it!”

This is roughly like saying, “Well, yes, obese people can lose weight—but not by trying to, and certainly not with anyone else’s help!”

The California law and New Jersey bill are based on a theory (which also has poor empirical support) that reorientation therapy may harm the self-esteem of those who don’t change—the 11%, in this study.

But it makes no sense to address that theoretical harm by hiding the truth from, and denying help to, the 83% of teens who may lose, or overcome, their same-sex attractions.

[i] Ritch C. Savin-Williams, “Who’s Gay? Does It Matter?” Current Directions in Psychological Science 15 (2006): 42.

[ii] J. Richard Udry and Kim Chantala, “Risk Factors Differ According to Same-Sex and Opposite-Sex Interest,” Journal of Biosocial Science 37, Issue 4  (July 2005): 486.