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American Academy of Physician Assistants House of Delegates Passes Compromise Resolution on Sexual Reorientation Efforts

Contact: John Fields, MPAS, MPH, PA-C, 210-487-9722


MEDIA ADVISORY, May 30 /Christian Newswire/ -- At their annual conference Monday, the House of Delegates of the American Academy of Physician Assistants passed a resolution opposing therapies which are based on the premise that homosexuality per se represents a mental disorder that should be cured. This resolution was more conservative than an original resolution advanced by the Academy's Committee on Diversity. The original resolution would have placed the Academy in opposition to any effort to alter sexual orientation and stated: "The American Academy of Physician Assistants opposes the practice of treatments intended to alter sexual orientation."

John Fields, President-Elect, and Chairman of the Task Force on Ethics and Policy of the Fellowship of Christian Physician Assistants (FCPA), argued against the original restrictive resolution during floor debate. He noted, "We were concerned that conservatively religious patients and practitioners would experience restrictions to the care available if the original resolution had passed." He added, "We agree that homosexuality per se should not be considered a mental disorder and we certainly oppose imposition of opinions on to patients which is essentially what new resolution states. However, we pressed for a recognition of religious diversity as well but our substitute resolution was not considered."

The Fellowship of Christian Physician Assistants proposed a substitute resolution that said, "The Academy opposes the practice of treatments intended to alter aspects of sexual orientation which are performed against the patient's will or are contrary to the patient's religious beliefs, cultural identity and personal values. The American Academy of Physician Assistants likewise supports practices which recognize the right of patients to align their sexual identity and behavior with their religious beliefs, cultural identity and personal values."

The well-known and respected psychiatrist, Dr. Robert Spitzer, wrote in a letter supporting the compromise resolution submitted by the FCPA: "Health care professionals should not coerce patients into reorientation but neither should they discourage patients from bringing their sexuality into accord with their religious convictions." Dr. Spitzer went on to say, "Even though I am not religious, I do believe it to be hubris for health care professionals to use our position to promote one set of beliefs over another."

Dr. Warren Throckmorton, a noted expert in sexuality counseling and consultant to the FCPA in the preparation of their compromise language remarked: "I commend the Academy for visiting the issue of safe and ethical mental health practice. I urge the Academy to add language to their current policy in order to also insure respect for religious and viewpoint diversity." This is the challenge that lies ahead for the FCPA as they continue to be the voice for Physician Assistants of faith. Mr. Fields accepts the challenge on behalf of the Fellowship and states: "During the next year, we will continue to make the case for religious and value diversity in the Academy."