Gay conversion group backtracks on bully policy

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A group which claims to convert gay people back to heterosexuality tried to hide its embarrassment last month after a investigation revealed that one of its affiliates advocated bullying children with gender identity issues.

Last month reported that a member of the National Association for Research and the Therapy of Homosexuals (NARTH) had suggested exposing “gender variant” children to bullying to re-establish a “normal boundary.”

But the “ex-gay” organisation has now retracted the comments made by NARTH Scientific Advisory Committee member Joseph Berger on a blog in reaction to a San Francisco Chronicle article on gender identity issues.

Organisations monitoring groups claiming to convert gay people back to heterosexuality were outraged by the remarks.

Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, an organisation which regularly protests against gay “conversion” groups, accused NARTH of encouraging child abuse, he told The Pink News: “This is cruelty disguised as compassion and an invitation to child abuse.”

Dr Berger’s blog said: “I suggest, indeed, letting children who wish go to school in clothes of the opposite sex – but not counselling other children to not tease them or hurt their feelings.

“On the contrary, don’t interfere, and let the other children ridicule the child who has lost that clear boundary between play-acting at home and the reality needs of the outside world.

“Maybe, in this way, the child will re-establish that necessary boundary.”

Daniel Gonzales of Ex-Gay Watch, a campaign group which monitors organizations such as NARTH, labelled the statements a disgrace, he told The Pink News: “Regardless if a child’s gender dysphoria persists into adulthood, allowing any child with a psychological condition to be harassed because of that condition is shameful.”

NARTH President Joseph Nicolosi attempted to clear the organisation’s name, he said: “NARTH disagrees with Dr Berger’s advice as we believe shaming, as distinct from correcting, can only create greater harm. Too many of our clients experienced the often life-long, harmful effects of peer shaming. We cannot encourage this.”

Dr Berger was also forced to backtrack on his remarks, he said “First, I am not a spokesman for NARTH, I expressed my opinions as a professional who has a professional association as an occasional consultant and contributing writer to NARTH.

“I am not in favour of what is called teasing. I deal with that issue in the office regularly and explain that so-called ‘teasing’ always carries an element of hostility that is being covered up by supposedly turning it into a ‘joke’ so that the victim cannot react with offence.

He insisted he is against bullying but blamed parents for not bringing their kids up properly, “Most definitely am I against bullying, but I am in favour of ‘normal peers’ helping others acknowledge what are ‘normal’ boundaries.”

“So if parents are unable to distinguish between the inappropriateness of intellectually weaker but physically stronger kids bullying brighter kids for doing their homework – and the appropriateness of helping a troubled child understand that whatever they might do in the privacy of their own home a boy wearing a skirt to school is not appropriate, then the problem indeed lies with the parents – and in the examples recently cited – in the distorted thinking of the advocates with agendas wishing to push forward the societal acceptance of aberrations,” he said.

This article first appeared in the October issue of The Pink News which is out now