from Books & Reviews
Q: Many people think that homosexuality is part of a person's natural identity. Is homosexuality really something that can be prevented?
Joseph Nicolosi: Homosexuality is understood by the majority of mental health practitioners working in this field to result from the interaction of biological, social and psychological factors. The social and psychological factors can be modified. What parents can do to make a homosexual outcome unlikely is to lay the best possible foundation for their child's secure gender identity.
Q: Homosexuality as a developmental disorder has been taken out of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Why do you still say that it is a developmental disorder?
Linda Nicolosi: Psychiatry says a disorder is characterized by distress and disability. We see a lot of subjective distress in homosexually oriented people which cannot be attributed solely to social discrimination. We also believe there is evidence of a "disability" in the homosexually-oriented person's feeling of not being comfortable with members of their own sex, of feeling "different" and inadequate, and of course, in not being able to function according to their biologically mandated sexual design.
Furthermore, the gay world is very destructive to our communal understanding of healthy gender identity and gender roles, to the stability of the traditional family, and to our integrity as persons who are designed to live in accordance with our created natures.
Q: Some may think that an idea like preventing homosexuality will only create more tension toward the homosexual community. How do you see A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality fitting into the bigger picture of understanding sexual identity?
Joseph and Linda Nicolosi: We think it fits in by showing parents that they can do something to influence their child's gender identity and future sexual orientation, even though there are no guarantees of the outcome. But they can certainly lay the foundation for a secure gender identity and thus provide what hundreds of dissatisfied homosexual strugglers have told us over and over was painfully absent in their own childhoods. And so there is very good reason for hope.
What are some of the strongest studies and pieces of evidence that homosexuality can be prevented?
Joseph: There is suggestive evidence, particularly from the research of Dr. George Rekers, that we can reduce the incidence of adult homosexuality if we support the gender-identity development of the child. But perhaps the best evidence to date comes from listening to the stories of adult homosexuals who have told us, over and over, what was missing in their own childhoods, and then working backward to fill those unmet needs and correct those misconceptions.
Time and again we hear such men say, "I never felt close to my father." "I always felt 'on the outs' with the other boys." "I never thought I could live up to my dad's expectations; so I was sure I was a failure." "My mother and I were best friends, and my father was the outsider in the family." "My brothers teased, abused and ridiculed me and my Dad called me a sissy." "An older guy molested me and I liked the closeness, the hugging, and the attention, and so I came to the conclusion I must be a homosexual." "My Project 10 counselor at school said this confusion I'm feeling means that 'gay is who I really am'."
What about parents who do the best they can--and their child grows up and says he is gay?
Joseph and Linda: Parents can make it clear, lovingly, that they're grieved by their child's lifestyle choices. They can also clarify that they don't believe that that gay is ultimately "who a person is," in the deepest sense. But we must love and stay close to all our children, even those who later make lifestyle choices of which we strongly disapprove. They are, of course, always our children.
How would you summarize your advice to parents who suspect their young son, for example, may be prehomosexual?
Joseph: I would tell fathers to go after your sons--push through the resistance and the estrangement, and don't let them reject you. Encourage them to find healthy same-sex peer relationships. Mothers, don't make your sons into your best friends; emphasize their differentness from you. Make it clear to your son that being a boy is good and desirable.
And listen closely to the many personal stories in our book--told by both gay and former homosexual men--about what was painfully absent in their own boyhoods.
If you employ the insights these stories provide, there is much that you can do to help your sons and daughters grow up to be secure, confident and happy in their gender.
What the author of Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth says about A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality:
"After years of indifference from the professional rank-and-file, most people have been trained to no longer see the exit from homosexuality--nor even the need for one. A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality, therefore, is an inoculation for our future.
"Or it can be: if enough of us take up the work he and a few of his fellows began--and then persisted in, through these decades of bigotry and ignorance--to learn that the power of homosexuality comes not from its innateness or intractability (however much it feels that way), but from the fears and uncertainties that plague every human being with a heart.
"The prevention of homosexuality, like its treatment, is no more difficult, nor more easy, than the re-shaping of any other human foible...and just as important."
--Jeffrey B. Satinover, M.D.
former Fellow in Child Psychiatry
at Yale University
A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality is now available from InterVarsity Press at www.ivpress.org. Paperback, $15.00.