In response to the continuing polarizations regarding same-sex attractions and a non-traditional gender, including the continued debates surrounding banning or offering "conversion" therapies, we propose an alternative approach. We call upon families, mental health professionals, lawmakers, professional organizations, religious communities and individuals to move beyond the familiar adversarial strategies and to focus instead on collaborative efforts that foster respectful dialogue and a shared commitment of two core principles of ethical mental health services: 1) facilitate individual self-determination and 2) do no harm.
The ethical principle of self-determination requires that each individual is seen as a whole person and supported in their right to explore, define, articulate and live out their own identity. For that reason, it is essential to acknowledge the broad spectrum of sexual and gender identities and expressions. In order to do so, it is necessary to have an equal understanding of and respect for sexual and gender minorities as well as the religious, spiritual and other ideological values of individuals and communities.
To reduce the risk of harm, it is essential to understand that a person is not mentally ill or developmentally delayed simply because they experience same-sex attractions or a non-traditional gender. While acknowledging that shifts in sexuality and gender identity can and do occur for some people, we believe it is unethical to focus treatment upon an assumption that a change in sexual orientation or gender identity will or must occur. It is also unethical to devalue the religious and other ideological values of others.