Rev Clinton Chisholm accused of pushing “bad science” in regards to ex-gay therapy

as posted on Anti Gay Fact Check a new gay blogger on the scene and I am happy that the tool was rejected by some in LGBT advocacy has now become the very way to speak out on issues, the young blogger has been doing his homework thus leaving me time to see other points of view and focus on other areas.

AGFC wrote:

Rev. Dr. Clinton Chisholm who is a lecturer at the Jamaica Theological Seminary quotes some studies to denounce the “ex-gay” therapy ban in California for minors in an effort to sound smart.

As usual, we at AGFC are ahead of the game and we know when the anti-gay movement/”ex-gay” mythologists not only tell lies but have no clue what they themselves are even talking about.

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity” – Martin Luther King, Jr.


We debunked his article entitled “That Puzzling California Law” below which you can read here:


The ostensibly progressive and rights-protecting California law banning all reparative (‘conversion’) therapy for minors is very puzzling and raises some very awkward questions.

What is it about homosexual orientation or behaviour (if unwanted) that makes it so uniquely resistant to psychotherapeutic behaviour-modification interventions? I say uniquely resistant because such clinical interventions are utilised for a whole range of unwanted behaviours, including alcoholism, sexual/gender identity issues, anxiety disorders (phobias), unlawful sexual urges, etc.

What then is the real motivator behind the rights veneer of the California law?

We should also factor in religious interventions. Bottom line: Is there any unwanted behaviour for which clinical behaviour-modification or spiritual intervention is ruled out, a priori, and why?

Now first of all Mr. Chisholm needs to understand three things. He needs to understand that homosexuality is not a behaviour but a sexual attraction to the same sex. He also needs to understand that reparative/conversion therapy is not modifying same-sex behaviour but same-sex attractions. He also needs to understand that homosexuality is not listed as a mental disorder by any mental health organisation. Can homosexuality be compared to alcoholism, phobias and anxiety disorders which are all classified as psycho-pathologies? What is so unique about homosexual orientation that Rev. Chisholm would want to force a child to “change it”? Do you change a child’s sexual orientation to please religiously motivated political groups or do you help them to overcome the social pressures which cause them to not be pleased with their sexual orientation?

Why does Mr. Chisholm believe that the Californian law is giving anyone rights? In fact, the law is there to protect the well being of children. Now, the American Psychological Association(APA) in 2009 produced a 130 page report on the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts(SOCE) after reviewing 83 studies done from from 1960-2007. In it they said:

We found that there was some evidence to indicate that individuals experienced harm from SOCE. Early studies documented iatrogenic effects of aversive forms of SOCE. These negative side effects included loss of sexual feeling, depression, suicidality, and anxiety. High drop rates characterized early aversive treatment studies and may be an indicator that research participants experienced these treatments as harmful“.

See here:

Another study done by Schroeder & Shidlo in 2001 on 202 so called “ex-gays” found that many of them experienced harm from the “therapy”. The study’s summary said:

We found evidence that many consumers of failed sexual orientation therapies experienced them as harmful. Areas of perceived psychological harm included depression, suicidality, and self-esteem. In the case of aversive conditioning and covert sensitization, harm included intrusive flashback-like negative imagery that was associated with serious long-term sexual dysfunction. Areas of perceived social harm included impairment in intimate and nonintimate relationships. Some religious participants also reported experiencing spiritual harm as a result of religious therapy.”

See study here: Schroeder & Shidlo’s study

Is this not reason to protect children from so-called therapies which are harmful? Read our post about an experience of a child who went through this “therapy”( The results were disastrous.

Is “ex-gay” the same as heterosexual?


What then should one make of the implications of two articles in the American Journal of Psychiatry, namely, ‘The Masters and Johnson Treatment Program for Dissatisfied Homosexual Men’, American Journal of Psychiatry, 141 (1984), 173-81 and E. Mansell Pattison and Myrna Loy Pattison, ‘Ex-Gays: Religiously Mediated Change in Homosexuals’, American Journal of Psychiatry, 137 (1980), 12?

The Masters & Johnson treatment programme reports conversion success rate at 65 per cent after a five-year follow-up.

As usual the religious right loves to quote studies that other politically motivated “family” groups give to them but never bother reading or researching on these studies themselves.

The study done by Masters and Johnson entitled “The Masters and Johnson Treatment Program for Dissatisfied Homosexual Men” proves this well as Mr. Chisholm doesn’t even realise that one of the authors, Virginia Johnson, admitted in 2009 that the results were fabricated. Fabricated results masquerading as truth? Is this some deception campaign of the anti-gay movement? The famous science magazine, Scientific American, did a report on this. It said:

Prior to the book’s publication, doubts arose about the validity of their case studies. Most staffers never met any of the conversion cases during the study period of 1968 through 1977, according to research I’ve done for my new book Masters of Sex . Clinic staffer Lynn Strenkofsky, who organized patient schedules during this period, says she never dealt with any conversion cases. Marshall and Peggy Shearer, perhaps the clinic’s most experienced therapy team in the early 1970s, says they never treated homosexuals and heard virtually nothing about conversion therapy.

Eventually Kolodny approached Virginia Johnson privately to express his alarm. She, too, held similar suspicions about Masters’ conversion theory, though publicly she supported him. The prospect of public embarrassment, of being exposed as a fraud, greatly upset Johnson, a self-educated therapist who didn’t have a college degree and depended largely on her husband’s medical expertise.

With Johnson’s approval, Kolodny spoke to their publisher about a delay, but it came too late in the process. “That was a bad book,” Johnson recalled decades later. Johnson said she favored a rewriting and revision of the whole book “to fit within the existing [medical] literature,” and feared that Bill simply didn’t know what he was talking about. At worst, she said, “Bill was being creative in those days” in the compiling of the “gay conversion” case studies.

This is the third time we have heard about this Masters and Johnson study. The more they quote it is the easier our job gets.

As for the study “Ex-Gays: Religiously Mediated Change in Homosexuals“, well we have a real interesting story to tell about this one. In 1978, two outside psychiatrists, were allowed to interview members of Exodus International, the worlds largest “ex-gay” organisation which recently distanced itself from reparative therapy. Of the ministry’s 300 members at the time, 30 were selected by the ministry staff as having changed from exclusively homosexual to exclusively heterosexual in orientation. The researchers interviewed the 30 and determined that only 11 had really been largely “cured” of their homosexual orientation because they had remained celibate. However, 8 of the 11 continued to have a homosexual or bisexual orientation because they still reported homosexual dreams, fantasies and/or impulses. Therefore only 3 out of 300 members who underwent this “therapy” reported changing to heterosexual. This would mean that the therapy has a 1% success rate if we were to believe the 3 men. No follow-up study was done and the subjects were taken from a political organisation which probably skewed the results. The study has obvious methodological flaws.

The Pattison study included a table describing their interview findings with the 11 subjects (from page 1555, see below). Bussee was subject number two and Cooper was number one.

However something happened in 1979 to two of the participants. Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper left the organisation, divorced their wives and ended up marrying each other. These two leaving as failures prove that the study was very flawed. In fact, Michael Bussee today criticised the study and even the organisation he helped to found, Exodus International.

Do we want to put children through a therapy known to cause harm which according to a flawed study only resulted in 1% success?


In the cutting-edge book Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation by Stanton L. Jones & Mark A. Yarhouse, Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2007, the authors found, contrary to the belief of certain clinicians, that change is possible.

Though operating with an upfront Christian commitment, Jones and Yarhouse conceded that they did not find that change is possible for everyone. They write: “The fact that some human beings can break the four-minute-mile barrier establishes that running a four-minute mile is not impossible, but that same fact does not establish that anyone (every human being) can break the four-minute-mile barrier.”

So, then, are the California legislators unaware of the pro-change pieces of literature mentioned above and published in their own country? Behold, I show you a mystery, or perhaps mischief!

The study by Jones and Yarhouse was rejected by the American Psychological Association for methodological flaws. The authors themselves even  said on their website ( in regards to what “conversion” means that: “Most of the individuals who reported that they were heterosexual at Time 3 did not report themselves to be without experience of homosexual arousal, and did not report heterosexual orientation to be unequivocal and uncomplicated.” In other words, the people who claimed they “changed” still experienced homosexual attractions and were thus bisexual. The study did not indicate as to whether or not they were bisexual before the study however. This study was clearly not a study to prove that homosexuals can “change” into heterosexuals but that some subjects experienced attractions to the opposite sex after “therapy”. Without knowing whether or not they were also attracted to the opposite sex before the study is a methodological flaw. The authors single sentence summary says: “In short, the results do not prove that categorical change in sexual orientation is possible for everyone or anyone, but rather that meaningful shifts along a continuum that constitute real changes appear possible for some.

Author: GLBTQ Jamaica Moderator

Activist and concerned gay man in Jamaica with over 19 years experience in advocacy and HIV/AIDS prevention work, LGBT DJ since 1996.

2 thoughts on “Rev Clinton Chisholm accused of pushing “bad science” in regards to ex-gay therapy”

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    a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very web savvy so I’m not 100% positive.
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