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Advocacy groups denounce ‘Dr. Oz’ for debating merits of reparative therapy

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NEW YORK — Three of the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy organizations on Wednesday denounced the syndicated “Dr. Oz” television show for airing an episode debating the merits of so-called reparative therapy, and for positioning a representative of the discredited National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) as an “expert.”

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamamtion (GLAAD), the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) said they are calling on Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of the “Dr. Oz Show” to stand with the entire medical community against reparative therapy, and to tell his LGBT viewers that he does not support the idea that their sexual orientation should be “repaired.”

According to the groups, the producers of the Dr. Oz Show framed their program on reparative therapy in a way that “provided a lengthy platform for junk science.”

The first two segments of the show featured two proponents of reparative therapy, neither of whom were challenged by Dr. Oz nor his guests. The two “ex-gay” activists were invited to stay and rebut statements by opponents throughout the program.

NARTH representative Julie Hamilton was introduced by Dr. Oz as an “expert” and spoke to countless parents and youth in the audience which angered the advocacy groups who maintained that it made it appear “as if NARTH’s work and practices represent legitimate and acceptable medical practices.”

The advocacy groups also noted that the producers had held conversations with representatives from GLAAD, GLSEN and PFLAG National leading up to the episode, but allegedly failed to disclose that a representative of NARTH would be featured.

The joint statement by GLAAD, GLSEN and PFLAG also pointed out that, while the show featured guests who condemned the idea and practice of “reparative therapy,” Dr. Oz himself never weighed in, and according to the groups, “the audience was misled to believe that there are actual experts on both sides of this issue.”

But in a statement posted to his blog earlier Wednesday, Oz indicated he has sided “with the established medical consensus,” which has rejected the practice of sexual orientation change efforts.

I felt that we needed to include all parties who have considered reparative therapy to hear the stories of people who have tried these treatments. Although some viewers may disagree with this tactic, if we want to reach everyone who might benefit from understanding the risks of this therapy, you have to present multiple perspectives.


After listening to both sides of the issue and after reviewing the available medical data, I agree with the established medical consensus. I have not found enough published data supporting positive results with gay reparative therapy and I have concerns about the potentially dangerous effects when the therapy fails, especially when minors are forced into treatments.

NARTH, a splinter group of anti-gay therapists/activists, was formed in 1992 — according to its founders — to “fully understand the homosexual condition and the factors which drive this self-destructive behavior,” and claims it supports clients who seek to “diminish their homosexuality and to develop their heterosexual potential” through therapy.

This idea, which is NARTH’s main focus, has been dismissed by every mainstream health and welfare organization in the country, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Social Workers.

“This issue is not one that can be discussed as though both sides are equally valid,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick.

“The idea of therapists attempting to change a patient’s sexual orientation has been proven ineffective and dangerous, and has been soundly and conclusively rejected by the entire medical establishment. This line of thinking is outdated, ultimately harmful, and in modern media, should be treated like lobotomies or medical mercury.”

The American Medical Association has previously stated that it opposes “any psychiatric treatment, such as ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy, which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a prior assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.”

“By presenting former NARTH President Julie Hamilton as an ‘expert’ on this topic, Dr. Oz chose to ignore what the actual experts say, and wrongfully presented this topic to his audience as an ongoing debate, rather than as the settled matter that it is within his own medical community,” the groups said, in a statement. “As someone who is trusted to deliver sound medical advice by his own patients and an audience of millions, his failure to do so on this topic is troubling. We ask that Dr. Oz stand with his colleagues and peers who oppose ‘reparative therapy.’”

NARTH co-founder Charles Socarides once called gay people “a purple menace that is threatening the proper design of gender distinctions in society.”

“What LGBT youth need is the love, support, and acceptance of their parents, families, and friends, not to be told to change who they are,” added PFLAG National Executive Director Jody Huckaby.

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25 more reader comments:

  1. Dr Oz’s other employer is Columbia University Department of Surgery where he works with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual and intersex patients, doctors, staff and students. He is a danger to them all if he thinks bash the gay away is ok

    Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 7:43pm
  2. I personally think that you are born gay and that you can’t be converted to be straight…I have seen research supporting this…Personally I don’t support this type of treatment and find it harmful for the person but am interested to see what other people think.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 7:49pm
  3. I think there is more to this story and I don’t believe he supports reparative therapy as a legitimate practice. I’d be more willing to believe there was pressure from the network to allow these nimrods their voice while trying to remain “neutral” and overly respectful.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 7:53pm
  4. Get him off TV!

    Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 7:58pm
  5. If you read the article, he clearly states in a blog post he doesn’t agree with this practice, and he does see it as damaging. That being said, since it is a news magazine, he did the right thing by presenting both cases to his audience. If anything, it brought a face to who these quacks are.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 8:01pm
  6. He didn’t gay bash anyone, he just tried to step aside and listen, from what the article seems to say. So, because he was passive he’s supports NARTH? What kind of logic is that?

    Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 8:02pm
  7. from reading the transcripts and article, he is obviously not a supporter of reparative therapy, and states as much. I dont know what people expected him to do on his show. he is an educated, composed man, who was letting both sides of the argument play out. He isnt Maury, Oprah or any other shock based talk show host. He is a surgeon, and more often than not listens to what his guests say. He in no way supported gay bashing and reading into what some may speculate he meant or believes makes those making assumptions no better than those who do the same about the gay lifestyle. Pick your battles and dont focus on things that really dont matter.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 8:04pm
  8. I’m disappointed that he had this segment. He is giving voice to a movement no better than the KKK.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 8:05pm
  9. i allways knew he was a quack

    Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 8:07pm
  10. I’ve never liked him honestly. He is quack just like Dr. Phil.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 8:08pm
  11. - He clearly /doesn’t/ think that, though, as anyone would see who actually watched this episode. The thing is, seeing as some people actually do still think reparative therapy is helpful or even harmless (for youth or adults) despite advances towards banning it, it was taking an opportunity to air the issue before an established nationwide audience.

    Is it worse to have an open debate about things like this, or to just let people’s assumptions remain unchallenged by never taking on these practices directly? If he had just stated (or had a specialist state) that it is ineffective and unethical, then those who support it would dismiss that claim as biased PC-liberal enabling of moral degeneracy. Staging an informative debate on this recognizes that the issue is serious and societally-divisive enough to warrant strong words and thorough rebuttals, since it is otherwise so easy and typical for cultural regressives to only hear what they want to hear and block out all dissenting evidence.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 8:14pm
  12. Just unliked his page on fb.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 8:16pm
  13. we have to conclude that half of his experts are also quacks.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 8:18pm
  14. I am so disappointed that Dr. Oz would even legitamatize this stuff.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 8:20pm
  15. I understand Dr. Oz’s desire to show all “sides” of “issues” while trying to stay neutral, but his mistake is assuming his audience consists 100% of open-minded, intelligent, educated, critically thinking people which many of his audience don’t come close to the aforementioned attributes. The Dr. Oz show is not some sort of symposium/lecture given in front of a group of med or grad students at a university. An ignorant audience opens the door for the assumption Dr. Oz somehow supports this barbaric torture under the guise of “therapy,” which he doesn’t and now he has to get on his megaphone letting the public know this!

    I don’t watch Dr. Oz because his shows are presented like a woman’s magazine article rather than a science journal article. However, I decided to watch the show to make my own judgment, and as a straight woman and proud mother of a wonderful gay son, I found the show disturbing and upsetting. However, it was simply clear to me I saw those who used reparative therapy as ignorant idiots while at the same time knew Dr. Oz’s neutrality was fodder and fuel for the ignorant.

    What I found also disturbing was one commercial during the episode dominated, and that was the special that is supposed to be on this Friday on ABC with Billy Graham and how this country is falling apart do to lack of “spiritual guidance.” Coincidence, I think not; strategically planned for many of the viewers, I think so.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 8:26pm
  16. I have watched a few of the Dr Oz show and actually don’t like it. but if he wanted a show that aired both sides of a story then why not do one on frontal lobotomy surgery is right for mental illness. Not much different. But he would be called a quack for sure!!

    Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 8:37pm
  17. Ironically, I’m sure that somewhere groups of anti-gay people are criticizing him for presenting the side THEY oppose.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 9:01pm
  18. I lost respect for dr Oz when he turned his show into a game show for fat women wanting for someone to tell them what to do

    Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 9:39pm
  19. Flush him!

    Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 9:50pm
  20. Can someone please explain to me why homosexuality should be more socially acceptable than consensual incest, polygamy or pedophilia? Need I remind you that in some cases pedophilia and polygamy were religious rights issues and incest was “the norm” long before homosexuality was ever an issue at all.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 10:09pm
  21. there are no TWO sides to bashing the gay away the tyrannical theocRATs who torture gay and lesbian people are not therapists they are terrorists. Only a heterosupremacist would think that LGBTI rights are debatable

    Posted on Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 12:07am
  22. Jared, the reason being that homosexuality has been a stereotyped behavior for a long time and it has been in human nature before a norm was established. Those others relationships you mentioned are typically tinged with inequality, cruelty and genetic abnormality for children. Not every relationship in those groups is horrible or violated personal consent ( Alexander and Hephaiston) but the potential for abuses is high as they evolved out of environments of eugenics and social division (for women especially). Homosexuality is entirely inoffensive, attacked by religious groups because of a ‘lack of productivity’ just as other ‘non normative’ peoples were. The reality is that Dr. OZ is a guy who got famous talking about waste matter and sex for the assumed shock value. Dr. OZ in giving visibility to a violation of consent in the most base sense may be saving people from its effects by bringing attention to it….but by not immediately dismissing it as fascist ( and why is he even discussing something out of his league and expertise) he condemns himself. Every piece of human dignity is under fire when a ‘norm’ is demanded…and created out of nothing. Social change in pursuit of happiness should be the norm.

    Posted on Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 12:33am
  23. never thought he would stoop so low as to give these brainwashers a platform to stand on, shame on you Dr. Oz.

    Posted on Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 5:26am
  24. Jackie, I used “consensual” to describe all forms of sexuality that I listed becsause if the sexual relation isn’t consensual then it becomes a whole other issue entirely. As far as eugenics goes, incestual couples could just as easily undergo surgery or use contraceptives to prevent pregnancy. Now for social division: How does homosexuality not have as high of a potential abuse towards social division as incest, polygamy or consenual sex with a minor? I know that some of these life-styles may seem clearly unconventional and immoral, but that’s how many view the life-style of LGBTs. I can’t imagine a society where we could introduce homosexuality as a conventional form of sexuality to our children. Imagine Alladin rescuing prince Tamar instead of princess Jasmin, or the movie being The Beauty and the Beast having a version called The Handsomeness and the Beast. This, to me, seems like a clear violation of the standards of social division for Western society. I can’t imagine this being portrayed in an orthodox manner to such a vulnerable crowd and therefore have no more acceptance for it than I do other forms of consenual, unconventional forms of sexuality.

    Posted on Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 8:32am
  25. If anyone is surprised the Dr. Oz show features bullshit junk fads and passes them off as true medical and scientific fact, they aren’t paying attention. The crap that gets trotted out on that show is continuously the medical equivalent of tabloid news.

    Posted on Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 8:36am