Even more damaging than the disapproval is to subject a child to conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is child abuse!

Peter Sprigg
via YouTube/NewsMax

Monday, I ignored Peter Sprigg’s idiotic post on Family Research Council’s blog. Among other things, Sprigg maintains that California attempted to ban the Bible. He is also confusing book banning with Amazon.com’s decision not to sell certain books. People are free to purchase Joseph Nicolosi’s books from other sellers.

Tuesday Sprigg is gushing over dead psychologist (and Catholic extremist), Joseph Nicolosi, who claimed that he could turn gay people straight (more or less) and that he could help parents prevent having a gay child (more or less). According to Peter Sprigg: Joseph Nicolosi on the Deep Need for Fatherly Affirmation. Boys and girls do need the affirmation of their father. That includes gay boys and girls.

All of this gibberish is based on the false notion that sexual orientation can be changed or influenced by others. Sexual orientation is not subject to parental whims and desires. Yet, according to Mr. Sprigg:

I have two of the books by Dr. Nicolosi that Amazon has banned in my library. While I have not read either cover to cover, I have read enough to know that they directly contradict some of what critics say about them. The two books are:

  • Joseph Nicolosi, Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach (Northvale, N.J.: Jason Aronson, Inc. 1997)
  • Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D., & Linda Ames Nicolosi, A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2002)

Again with the banned BS. Apparently being Nicolosi’s wife was sufficient to make her an expert on human sexuality. It is the second of those two books that I find most troubling. Parents could create considerable distress for a gay child if they thought that they could influence the kid’s sexual orientation. Ultimately that is compounded by the fact that they, the parents, will believe that they have failed.

The only way to prevent having gay children is not to have children at all. The more male children a birth mother has, the greater the likelihood — with each successive male birth — that a child will be gay. That is a scientific fact.

Getting back to Mr. Sprigg whose training consists of being a Baptist minister:

One criticism of Nicolosi in particular stood out. Rojo Alan told the GayStarNews, “The books went into ways in which you can mentally and physically abuse your child.”


Here are some of the actual recommendations and observations in Nicolosi’s Parent’s Guide:

  • Use “positive and affirming strategies.” (p. 15)
  • The “at-risk boy needs (but does not get) particular affirmation from parents and peers.” (p. 22)
  • […]

  • Boys “need from their dads what we reparative therapists call ‘the three A’s’: affection, attention, and approval.” (p. 50)
  • [Quoting another expert:] “Anything that parents can do to make their kids feel proud of their identity—as young men, as young women—will help the [treatment] process” (p. 154).

Sprigg is obviously going to be selective with his quotes. Even then he did not do very well. We start with the scientific consensus that none of this is going to have any influence on a child’s sexual orientation.

  1. A strategy will become burdensome if it fails — which it will about 5% of the time.
  2. There is no such thing as an “at-risk boy” when that means at-risk for being gay. If that “affirmation” affirms only heterosexuality when the child is gay, it is abusive.
  3. Boys do need affection, attention and approval from their fathers. Nicolosi would have men withhold approval of their gay sons and that is abusive.
  4. Kids can feel proud of being young men for many reasons. Nicolosi would have men disapprove of this pride if the child happens to be gay and that is abusive. Indeed, placing a child into “treatment” because they are gay is abusive per se.


Some people suggest that SOCE tries to force boys into stereotypical masculinity. But it is actually pro-LGBT adults who often stereotype a child as “gay” (or even “transgender”) based on their personality traits. Here is what Nicolosi says:

  • The “child should not be forced into a predetermined mold that will cause him to deny his fundamental nature—his natural gifts of creativity, sensitivity, kindness, gentleness, sociability, intuitiveness, or high intellect.” (p. 38)
  • A “boy can be sensitive, kind, social, artistic, gentle—and heterosexual. He can be an artist, an actor, a dancer, a cook, a musician—and a heterosexual. These innate artistic skills are ‘who he is,’ part of the wonderful range of human abilities. No one should try to discourage those abilities and traits.” (p. 48)

The basic premise is crackpottery. Since Nicolosi and Sprigg believe that parents can influence the sexuality of their children there is the preposterous belief that they can also influence their children to be gay.

The role of the parent is to be supportive irrespective of their perception of their child’s sexuality. I am not a shrink but I would think that some gay children at some point tell their parents that they are gay. In some instances I would think that it is appropriate for a parent to ask: “Do you think that you might be gay? It’s perfectly okay if you do think so or if you are.”

What Nicolosi is saying (what Sprigg is quoting) is actually correct. Being creative does not mean that a child is gay. I suspect that Nicolosi would say “at-risk” which is nonsense. Keep in mind that Sprigg is selectively quoting passages to suit his agenda.

The parents of gay children are no more interested in these stereotypes than the readers of Nicolosi’s toxic books. Those parents hopefully realize that they did not turn their child gay. Any doctrine which promotes the idea that adults are responsible for the sexuality of their children is highly irresponsible. Inducing guilt is detrimental to an entire family.


Critics of SOCE often argue that it results from a “rejection” of the LGBT child. Does Nicolosi urge parents to reject their children if they identify as gay? The answer is clearly no:

“Of course, no intervention can guarantee that a child will grow up heterosexual. . . . I trusted that Margaret and Bill would still love their son if those efforts were not successful.” (p. 32)

I have not seen such criticism but I do know that some religious parents reject their LGBT children. Some are even kicked out when they come out. Nicolosi and Sprigg are both at fault because they assert that sexual orientation is essentially a choice.

Sprigg is focusing on the wrong problem. It is not rejection that is the problem. By the time they concede (if they ever do concede) that a child is gay, that kid is severely damaged. Chances are that he has also been lying to his parents, telling them that he is turning straight. He has been forced into those lies by ignorant parents.

In the quoted passage Nicolosi claimed that he cannot guarantee that a kid will be straight. I can guarantee that the kid, if gay, will still be gay. He may pretend to be heterosexual in which case he will have become a neurotic, self-loathing gay person. Where is the research from Nicolosi with a matrix of children he has treated and how they regard their sexuality one year, two years … up to five years after “treatment?” I doubt that Nicolosi ever did such follow-up. He probably knew what he would discover.

Last month, USA Today ran an article about Scott Dittman, a man who attended Pittsburgh’s LGBT Pride parade wearing a t-shirt offering “Free Dad Hugs.” More than 700 people took him up on the offer, with some becoming quite emotional—“you can see how damaged deep down so many of them are,” Dittman reported.

If they are damaged, it is not because they are LGBT persons. They are damaged from rejection, persecution and discrimination. I am damaged because I knew I was gay but never felt comfortable admitting it to my parents. I went to an elite boarding school. Any admission would have meant my immediate dismissal. I had to hide my sexuality for most of my career. I even told fag jokes. Those things do not go away. I am still neurotic.

Fortunately today most kids can be perfectly comfortable with their sexuality. If parents do not listen to nitwits like Sprigg and if they do not believe crackpots like Nicolosi they have the ability to raise healthy, happy and secure children who can thrive regardless of their sexuality. All parents really need to do is to understand the science. Sprigg is a science denier.

One of the most damaging things that a parent can do to a child is to foster disapproval based on the kid’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Even more damaging than the disapproval is to subject a child to conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is child abuse!

Note: Sprigg’s employer, Family Research Council, is deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.