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No evidence that sexual orientation can be changed

Peter Sprigg [letters, March 12] accused the Montgomery County Board of Education of making a political statement by including language in the health curriculum not recommended by county schools staff — specifically, that sexual orientation is innate.

First, staff did recommend this language. The board’s minutes of Jan. 9, 2007, state, “Staff recommended that . . . the Grade 8 lesson on respecting differences in human sexuality should include the following statement: say to the students, ‘Sexual orientation is innate and a complex part of one’s personality.’ ”

Second, Mr. Sprigg’s implication that the scientific community has no idea what underlies sexual orientation is incorrect. As the American Academy of Pediatrics explains, “Sexual orientation probably is not determined by any one factor but by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences. In recent decades, biologically-based theories have been favored by experts.”

Finally, the American Psychological Association, cited by Mr. Sprigg, has concluded there is no evidence sexual orientation can be voluntarily changed, and, in a publication for school personnel, notes that the “nation’s leading professional medical, health, and mental health organizations do not support efforts to change young people’s sexual orientation through therapy and have raised serious concerns about the potential harm from such efforts.”

David S. Fishback, Olney

The author is advocacy chairman of the Metro D.C. Chapter of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

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