About 36 percent of the American public believes that if they try hard enough, gay people can turn straight, according to data from the Pew Research Center released on Tuesday.
The research reflects polling conducted in 2012, and as shocking as the numbers seem, the nation has actually eased in this belief as LGBT tolerance has grown. Six years ago, 39 percent of the population claimed that gays could change their orientation — in 2003, an equal number of people believed that gays could and could not switch to the straight side.
Perhaps even more telling, just 51 percent of the country believes that homosexuals cannot change their preferences, meaning that nearly half the population thinks there is at least a slight chance that sexuality is reprogrammable.
These numbers reflect the vast amount of misinformation that has long plagued the homosexual community, even as so-called “conversion therapy” has been proven ineffective time and time again.
As far back as 1998, the American Psychological Association (APA) came out against attempting to convert gay people, claiming that societal judgment and pressure, not homosexuality, was the true threat to the LBGT community.
The report read “The potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.”
In 2009, an APA analysis of current research revealed that little evidence exists to support conversion therapy, despite unfounded promises made by religious groups who condemn homosexuals.
The latest report stated "These studies show that enduring change to an individual's sexual orientation is uncommon," and cited treatment side effects like "loss of sexual feeling, depression, suicidality and anxiety.”
Gay conversion has grown so unpopular that states are now lining up to bar the practice. California led the way, and just Monday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a measure to ban it from his state. Washington may be next, as State Rep. Marko Liias is pushing for a similar bill.