A controversial "Dr. Oz Show" episode has sparked the ire of the nation's most high-profile lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy groups for promoting the "dangerous and harmful practices" of reparative therapy.
The episode, which aired Nov. 28, debated the merits of so-called reparative, or "ex-gay," therapy. Among the featured guests was Julie Hamilton, a representative of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (or NARTH) which has routinely been at odds with American Psychiatric Association and other scientific organizations.
Among those to decry Dr. Mehmet Oz's decision to represent NARTH on the show was the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamamtion (GLAAD). “The idea of therapists attempting to change a patient’s sexual orientation has been proven ineffective and dangerous, and has been soundly and conclusively rejected by the entire medical establishment," GLAAD President Herndon Graddick said in a statement. "This line of thinking is outdated, ultimately harmful, and in modern media, should be treated like lobotomies or medical mercury."
The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) felt similarly, saying they would not have particpated in the broadcast had they known NARTH would be represented. “The Dr. Oz Show provided a platform to a fringe organization promoting dangerous and harmful practices that every major health, mental health and education organization has consistently repudiated as harmful to youth," Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard is quoted as saying. The Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) were more pointed in their response to the show, adding in an email statement: "Although the show also featured guests who condemned the idea and practice of 'reparative therapy,' Dr. Oz himself never weighed in, and the audience was misled to believe that there are actual experts on both sides of this issue."
In a blog post on his website, Oz defended Hamilton's appearance, saying that he "felt that we needed to include all parties who have considered reparative therapy to hear the stories of people who have tried these treatments. Although some viewers may disagree with this tactic, if we want to reach everyone who might benefit from understanding the risks of this therapy, you have to present multiple perspectives."
He then went on to note:
"After listening to both sides of the issue and after reviewing the available medical data, I agree with the established medical consensus. I have not found enough published data supporting positive results with gay reparative therapy and I have concerns about the potentially dangerous effects when the therapy fails, especially when minors are forced into treatments."