Attempts to modify sexual orientation (known as "conversion therapies" or “reparative therapies” and so far targeted only at LGB-identified individuals) have been condemned by numerous professional organizations in the scientific field for causing depression (sometimes leading to suicide) and for being ineffective. Indeed, the largest "reparative" therapy organization, a ministry called Exodus International, was started by two formerly homosexual men who several years later ended up leaving the ministry, denouncing it, and living as a homosexual couple themselves. The American Psychological Association in 1997 passed a resolution declaring therapists in these groups engaged in such conversion therapies to be following unethical and unhealthy practices.
In May 2001, Dr. Robert Spitzer of Columbia University published the findings of a short-term study of "reparative" therapy. Based on telephone interviews with a convenience sample of 200 persons, Spitzer concluded that some "highly motivated" gay people could change their sexual orientation through therapy or other means.
Many in the scientific community have dismissed Spitzer's study because of its serious methodological flaws, among them: Spitzer recruited most of his subjects through Exodus (an organization that says homosexuality is a sin) and the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.
Furthermore Spitzer excluded from his study anybody whose experiences with reparative therapy were not successful. And Spitzer's research did not mention or account for the existence of bisexuality on the continuum of sexual orientation. In response many believe that what he called a "highly motivated gay person" is merely a bisexual person. Indeed, in his study he uses the phrase "predominantly homosexual", indicating that the subjects also had heterosexual attractions.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association, American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychological Association, American School Health Association, Interfaith Alliance Foundation, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Social Workers, and National Education Association developed and endorsed the following statement in 1999:
- "The most important fact about "reparative therapy," also sometimes known as "conversion therapy," is that it is based on an understanding of homosexuality that has been rejected by all the major health and mental health professions. [Our organizations], together representing more than 477,000 health and mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus there is no need for a 'cure.' ...health and mental health professional organizations do not support efforts to change young people's sexual orientation through 'reparative therapy' and have raised serious concerns about its potential to do harm."