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Corban University, LGBTQ Rights, and Gay Conversion Therapy

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association issued the historic (and overdue) ruling that same-sex attraction was not a mental illness nor a sickness that needed a cure. It helped shift public opinion nationwide to a more compassionate, pragmatic view of sexual orientation, but it did not gain traction everywhere. To this day, arcane institutions, advocates and funders still promote a practice called “gay conversion therapy,” a horrific practice based on the fallacy that sexual identity can be flawed, and can be changed.

The Northwest Accountability Project has a history of exposing the regressive entities that promote or fund the movement that promotes gay conversion therapy, like Vancouver, Washington’s Murdock Charitable Trust. Now we are shining the light on Corban University in Salem, Oregon, which receives federal aid (your tax dollars) while still endorsing this appalling practice.

Send a letter to your Senators and Representatives and ask them to revoke Corban’s Title IX exemption.

The historical practice of “gay conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy” began barbarically. Mental health professionals employed institutionalization, castration and electroconvulsive shock therapy to try and stop patients’ natural inclinations. In 2009, the American Psychological Association reported that therapists attempting to “fix” their lesbian gay, bisexual and transgendered patients had at some point utilized forced nausea and vomiting or induced paralysis while showing the patient homoerotic images.

The medieval techniques used in the past have today given way to hypnosis and counseling as primary “conversion” methods, but the dangerous philosophy underpinning these practices remains the same.  At Corban University, for example, the student handbook says students who “struggle with gender identity” are expected to explore these feelings in school-sanctioned settings and “continue to identify with their biological sex.” While students who are experiencing same-sex attraction are “expected to remain celibate and refrain from dating.”

Students who have suffered from Corban University’s restrictive view of sexual orientation and gender identity, have left testimony on a website called OneCorban. According to the site, after school administrators inspected his web search history, one student was threatened with expulsion if he didn’t agree to enter a gay conversion therapy program. The student says that the school counseling staff did not come from a place of understanding, and eventually he withdrew from Corban in order to “put himself in places where others would accept me.”

The cottage industry around gay conversion therapy in the United States has all but collapsed, once led by the likes of Exodus International, a group that offered “freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ.” The group shut down suddenly in 2013 with an apology for three decades of damage done to the LGBTQ community, and an admission from its president that he still held same-sex attraction. Even hardline groups like Exodus have moved on from the backward barbarism of reparative therapy, but Corban University continues on.

Corban doubles down on its LGBTQ prejudice by inviting speakers and hiring professors that toe the same hurtful line. Mark Yarhouse, an anti-LGBTQ psychologist who refers to that community as “sexual minorities” and believes family history is more important than genetics in sexual identity, was hosted by Corban University. Yarhouse has claimed that attempting gay conversion therapy “does not appear to be harmful on average or inherently harmful.” Corban also hired Corey Gilbert as their Chair of the Psychology Program, whose research includes “unwanted same-sex attraction.”

To make matters worse, we are all subsidizing Corban University’s bigotry. A loophole in the federal Civil Rights Act allows Corban to receive a “Title IX religious exemption,” freeing them to aggressively discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community. Because of this exemption, Corban still enjoys a windfall of federal student loans, huge savings from their non-profit status with the IRS and a continuing flow of grants that are tax-deductible to their donors.

What you can do to help:

While we in the Northwest celebrate LGBTQ rights and the diversity of our population, Corban University stays mired in hurtful out-of-date bigotry, while benefiting from all of our tax dollars. Please send a letter to your Senators and Representatives to demand that Corban University not be able to benefit from public funds while continuing to promote division and hatred. Together we can close Corban’s Title IX loophole of bigotry and protect our values and the students of Corban University.

*Prior versions of this blog unintentionally misrepresented the nature and location of a specific “reparative therapy session.” We regret the mistake and have made the necessary changes.

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