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George Alan Rekers (born July 11, 1948) is an American psychologist and ordained Southern Baptist minister.[1] He is emeritus professor of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Science at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.[2][3]

Rekers has a Ph.D from University of California, Los Angeles and has been a research fellow at Harvard University, a professor and psychologist for UCLA and the University of Florida, and department head at Kansas State University.


Personal life, education and academic careerEdit

Rekers is married with children.[4]

Rekers received his B.A. in psychology from Westmont College in 1969. He later received his M.A. and Ph.D. in psychology from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1971 and 1972, respectively.[2] As part of his doctoral studies at UCLA, Rekers led an experimental study which used behavioral treatment to discourage "deviant sex-role behaviors in a male child".[5][6] The study's published results stated that the "treatment intervention produced a profound change" in the subject, a boy treated from the age of 4 years 11 months.[5] In 2011, Anderson Cooper 360° featured a story about the fate of Kirk Murphy, a child Rekers states that he cured in many of his books. Murphy's siblings and mother state that the therapy ultimately had lasting damage to the boy and led to him growing up to be a man who grappled constantly with his homosexuality before committing suicide in 2003 at the age of 38.[7][8]

Rekers also holds an MBA in executive management from Southern Wesleyan University and Th.D. from the University of South Africa.[9]

From 1972 to 1973, Rekers worked as a research fellow and visiting scholar for the Center for Behavioral Sciences at Harvard University. After completing his Ph.D., Rekers was an assistant research psychologist and adjunct assistant professor of psychology at UCLA from 1974 to 1977. Rekers joined the University of Florida College of Medicine in 1977 and became the chief psychologist at the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry as well as an associate professor of psychiatry, clinical psychology, and pediatrics. In 1980, Rekers became head and a tenured professor at the Department of Family and Child Development at Kansas State University; he left in 1985.[2]

Scholarly workEdit

Rekers has published numerous journal articles on gender roles among children,[10] with articles on "cross-gender identified boys" and "child gender disturbances".[11][12][13] His work has been criticized by other scholars for reinforcing sex-role stereotypes and for reliance on dubious rationales for therapeutic intervention (e.g. parents' worries that their children might become homosexuals).[14][15]

Rekers refers in his academic work to "the positive therapeutic effects of religious conversion for curing transsexualism" and "the positive therapeutic effect of a church ministry to repentant homosexuals."[16] Judith Butler describes this work as "intensely polemical", giving "highly conservative political reasons for strengthening the diagnosis [of "gender identity disorder"] so that the structures that support normalcy can be strengthened."[17]

Rekers credits himself for developing a method of assessing gender behavior in children's play in 1972.[18]

Views on the familyEdit

Rekers' views on family life were the focus of a major controversy in Florida in 2002 when then-governor Jeb Bush appointed Jerry Regier to the post of head of the Florida Department of Children and Families with responsibility for child welfare. Shortly after the announcement of Regier's appointment, it was disclosed that in 1989 the California-based Coalition on Revival had published a fundamentalist tract titled The Christian World View of the Family under the names of Regier and Rekers, which condemned working mothers as being in "bondage" and argued that the government should have no right to place children in protective custody except in cases of extreme abuse or neglect. The tract's authors also "affirm that Biblical spanking may cause temporary and superficial bruises or welts that do not constitute child abuse" and "deny that the Bible countenances any other definition of the family, such as the sharing of a household by homosexual partners, and that society's laws should be modified in any way to broaden the definition of family."[19] The tract was condemned by Democrats; Bush told the media that Regier "doesn't share those extreme views."[20] Regier survived the controversy and served as DCF head from 2002 to the end of Jeb Bush's term in 2007.[21]

Rekers is a practicing Southern Baptist, and credits the work of C.S. Lewis, particularly his writings on gender relations, with influencing his religious and social views.[22]

Views on homosexualityEdit

Rekers has attracted attention for his views on homosexuality, which have been promoted in a number of forums and court cases. He asserts that homosexuality is a "gender disturbance" that can be corrected through 18 to 22 months of weekly therapy during childhood and adolescence. Mark Pietrzyk, of the gay group the Log Cabin Republicans, has stated that Rekers' method utilizes aversion therapy – a practice opposed by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) – that punishes "nonconforming" behavior such as swaggering in girls or limp wrists in boys and rewards "conforming" behavior such as girls playing with dolls and boys playing basketball.[23] A number of authorities working in the relevant fields reject Reeker's basic premise utterly; a publication from the A.P.A. states "The idea that homosexuality is a mental disorder or that the emergence of same-sex attraction and orientation among some adolescents is in any way abnormal or mentally unhealthy has no support among any mainstream health and mental health professional organizations."[24] (Printing and distribution of that publication was with the support of the American Counseling Association, the Interfaith Alliance, and the National Education Association.[25]) According to Rekers himself, he spends much of his time with boys whose peers regard them as "sissy" and "effeminate" with the goal of reversing those traits and "help[ing] these children to become better adapted to themselves and to their environment."[26] The APA's opposition to his methods led to him resigning from the organization.[26]

Rekers has appeared in court in several cases as an expert witness testifying on matters concerning homosexuality. His testimony has been strongly criticized by a number of parties including trial judges; the American Civil Liberties Union has asserted that his personal beliefs regarding homosexuality interfere with his ability to give an unbiased professional opinion on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) topics, including gay adoption.[27] Legal experts have discussed whether his involvement with a male prostitute in 2010 could render his testimony unreliable, possibly affecting the outcome of pending cases in Florida and California.[28]

Boy Scouts of America hearing, 1998Edit

Rekers testified before the Washington, D.C. Human Rights Commission on behalf of the Boy Scouts of America in 1998 in defense of the group's policy on excluding homosexuals, arguing that it was justified because admission of homosexuals "would legitimize the value of homosexual behavior in the eyes of many of the Boy Scouts ... There would be more homosexual conduct or behavior by the boys in such troops."[26] He has acknowledged that his views are heavily influenced by religious concerns; as a member of the Southern Baptists, he believes that the city of Sodom was destroyed by God as a punishment for allowing homosexuality and that active homosexuals face "eternal separation from God", i.e. perpetuity in hell.[26]

Arkansas gay adoption case, 2004Edit

Rekers was an expert witness in a 2004 case involving gay adoption in Arkansas, which had banned LGBT people from adopting in 1999. He argued that "it would be in the best interest of foster children to be placed in a heterosexual home" because the majority of people in the country disapproved of homosexual behaviour, putting further stress on children who were already likely to suffer from psychological disorders. According to Rekers, "That disapproval filters down to children [who] will express disapproval in more cruel, insensitive ways" toward a child being parented by a gay person. In cross-examination, Rekers acknowledged that he believed that homosexuality is sinful and that the Bible is the infallible word of God.[29] His testimony was rebutted by Dr. Michael Lamb, a psychiatrist, who stated that there was no scientific evidence for the assertion that homosexuals were worse parents than heterosexuals.[30]

The trial judge, Pulaski County Circuit Court judge Timothy Fox, ruled against the state of Arkansas in December 2004. He was strongly critical of Rekers' testimony, describing it as "extremely suspect", and said that Rekers "was there primarily to promote his own personal ideology." Rekers responded by denouncing the trial as "utterly corrupt."[31][32]

Following the case, Rekers billed the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services a sum of $165,000 for his testimony, an amount that far exceeded what the state had anticipated. He later increased the bill to $200,000 with the addition of late fees and other charges for preparing paperwork. The unpaid bill led to two years of legal wrangling that was finally settled out of court with a $60,000 payment.[33]

Florida gay adoption case, 2008Edit

In 2008, Rekers was an expert witness in In re: Gill, a case defending Florida's gay adoption ban. He presented testimony asserting that homosexuals are more likely to suffer from depression, substance abuse, and emotional problems.[34] Citing what he called "God's moral laws," he asserted that individual homosexuals are "manipulated by leaders of the homosexual revolt" to the detriment of those suffering this "sexual perversion."[35] He also asserted that Native Americans would make unsuitable foster parents, asserting that they suffered from a high risk of alcohol abuse and psychiatric disorders.[36]

Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Cindy Lederman ruled against the state. In her decision, she said "Dr. Rekers’ testimony was far from a neutral and unbiased recitation of the relevant scientific evidence. Dr. Rekers’ beliefs are motivated by his strong ideological and theological convictions that are not consistent with the science. Based on his testimony and demeanor at trial, the court cannot consider his testimony to be credible nor worthy of forming the basis of public policy."[31] It later emerged that Rekers had been paid nearly $120,000 for his testimony on behalf of the state, which had been solicited specifically by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. The attorney general wrote in 2007: "Our attorneys handling this case have searched long and hard for other expert witnesses with comparable expertise to Dr. Rekers and have been unable to identify any who would be available for this case." However, his choice of witness was criticized by Nadine Smith of the gay-rights organization Equality Florida: "Rekers is part of a small cadre of bogus pseudo scientists that charge these exorbitant fees to peddle information they know has been discredited time and time again. And people like McCollum will pay top dollar for it. There's a reason why he can't find credible sources. Because credible people don't believe this ban should exist."[37]

Third District Court of Appeal State of Florida, stated in the decision: "Dr. Cochran (Professor of Epidemiology and Statistics at the University of California in Los Angeles) also testified about errors in scientific methodology and reporting in Dr. Rekers’ study, stating that Dr. Rekers had failed to present an objective review of the evidence on those subjects. Cochran concluded that Dr. Rekers’ work did not meet established standards in the field. Another expert, Dr. Peplau (Professor of Psychology at the University of California in Los Angeles), testified that Dr. Rekers had omitted in his review of the scientific literature “other published, widely cited studies on the stability of actual relationships over time.”[38]

Organizational affiliationsEdit

Family Research CouncilEdit

In 1983 Rekers was on the founding board of the Family Research Council, a non-profit Christian lobbying organization, along with James Dobson and Armand Nicholi Jr,[39] but the organization reported in 2010 he has not been associated with them for more than a decade.[40]

NARTHEdit

Until May 11, 2010, Rekers was listed as an advisor and officer with the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality;[41][42] as of 4, 2010 (2010 -Template:MONTHNUMBER-04)Template:Dated maintenance category[43], these listings have been removed from the NARTH website. NARTH is an association which promotes the acceptance of conversion therapy intended to change homosexuals into heterosexuals, contrary to the advice of mainstream professional associations such as the American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association. On May 11, 2010, NARTH announced that Rekers had resigned from its board.[44]

FactsAboutYouth.comEdit

FactsAboutYouth.com is a website designed to give educators information for teaching youth about sexual orientation. Rekers is listed by name as being a director in the development of the resource through a subcommittee of the American College of Pediatricians (not to be confused with the American Academy of Pediatrics). The National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, an organization for which Rekers was an officer, is also listed as managing the website.[45] A contributor for the organization Truth Wins Out characterized this website as a "phony medical group attempting to peddle anti-gay propaganda to schools."[46]

Web sitesEdit

Rekers operated web sites including TeenSexToday.com ("my blog on teen sex")[47] and an evangelical team ministry called InterAct International Inc.[48]

PublicationsEdit

.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Howard v. Arkansas - George Rekers Fact Sheet. American Civil Liberties Union.
  2. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named CV
  3. USCERA: Faculty Expertise: Curriculum Vitae for Rekers, George
  4. Psychologist Resigns from NARTH after Gay Prostitute's Claims
  5. 5.0 5.1 (1974). Behavioral Treatment of Deviant Sex-Role Behaviors in a Male Child. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis 7 (2): 173–190.
  6. includeonly>"Therapy to change 'feminine' boy created a troubled man, family says", June 7, 2011. Retrieved on June 7, 2011.
  7. The 'Sissy Boy' Experiment, Anderson Cooper 360°.
  8. Burroway, Jim. "What Are Little Boys Made Of? An Original BTB Investigation," Box Turtle Bulletin, June 7, 2011, accessed July 21, 2011
  9. Welcome to Professor George.com. ProfessorGeorge.com. URL accessed on January 14, 2011.
  10. author search in Google Scholar
  11. (1975). Stimulus control over sex-typed play in cross-gender identified boys. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 20 (1): 136–148.
  12. (1974). The behavioral treatment of a 'transsexual' preadolescent boy. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 2 (2): 99–116.
  13. (1977). Child gender disturbances: A clinical rationale for intervention. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice 14 (1): 2–11.
  14. (1977). Implications of the stereotyping and modification of sex role. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis 10 (3): 553–557.
  15. (1997). Disciplining the Family: The Case of Gender Identity Disorder. Philosophical Studies 85 (2–3): 195–211.
  16. (1986). Inadequate sex role differentiation in childhood: The family and gender identity disorders. Journal of Family and Culture 2 (3): 8–37.
  17. Judith Butler, 2004, Undoing Gender, London: Routledge, pp. 89-90
  18. George A. Rekers "Psychosexual Assessment of Gender Identity Disorders" in Advances in behavioral assessment of children and families, Volume 4, ed. Ronald J. Prinz, (1988), JAI Press, London. p. 46
  19. includeonly>Jackson, Karla. "Religious Tract Haunts DCF Nominee", The Tampa Tribune, August 17, 2002.
  20. includeonly>Pinkham, Paul. "Protest flares at new DCF secretary", The Florida Times-Union, 2002-08-17.
  21. includeonly>LA Times Staff. "Ex-Aide of Elder Bush to Head Florida's Child Welfare Agency", LA Times, 2002-08-16.
  22. The Christian in an age of sexual eclipse, Michael Braun & George Alan Rekers, Tyndale House Publishers, c 1981.
  23. includeonly>Lochhead, Caroline. "Conservatives Brand Homosexuality a 'Tragic Affliction'", The San Francisco Chronicle, June 20, 1997.
  24. Just the Facts Coalition Just the facts about sexual orientation and youth: A primer for principals, educators, and school personnel.. (PDF) American Psychological Association. URL accessed on 2012-02-13.
  25. Just the Facts Coalition Just the facts about sexual orientation and youth: A primer for principals, educators, and school personnel.. (PDF) American Psychological Association. URL accessed on 2012-02-13.
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 includeonly>Thompson, Tracy. "Scouting and New Terrain" (paid archive), The Washington Post, 1998-08-02.
  27. Transgender rights Paisley Currah, Richard M. Juang, Shannon Minter; U of Minnesota Press, 2006, ISBN 0-8166-4312-1, ISBN 978-0-8166-4312-7.
  28. John Schwartz, "Scandal Stirs Legal Questions in Anti-Gay Cases", New York Times, 19 May 2010
  29. includeonly>Brooks, Jim. "Gays in home taxing for kids, court hears", The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 2004-10-06.
  30. includeonly>Brooks, Jim. "Ban on foster children in residences with gays unlawful, judge finds", The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 2004-12-30.
  31. 31.0 31.1 In re: Gill - Trial Court Decision and Order
  32. includeonly>Egelko, Bob. "Arkansas judge OKs foster care", The San Francisco Chronicle, January 1, 2005.
  33. includeonly>Tubbs, Charlotte. "Agency, witness in gay foster parent case in pay battle", The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 2006-12-30.
  34. includeonly>"Florida Judge Rules Against Gay Adoption Ban", All Things Considered, NPR, 2008-11-25.
  35. includeonly>Blumner, Robyn E.. "Making a loving home for two brothers", St Petersburg Times, 2008-11-30.
  36. includeonly>Burnside, Jeff. "AG Paid $60,000 to Anti-Gay Activist Who Hired Male Prostitute", NBC Miami, 2010-05-07.
  37. includeonly>Rothaus, Steve. "Bill McCullom requested hiring of antigay psychologist now in Rentboy scandal", The Miami Herald, 2010-05-11.
  38. Third District Court of Appeal State of Florida, July Term, A.D. 2010 Florida Department of Children and Families, Appellant, vs. In re: Matter of Adoption of X.X.G. and N.R.G., Appellees.
  39. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Family_Research_Council
  40. Section 4 - A word from our media center. The Family Research Council. URL accessed on May 5, 2010.
  41. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named narthadvisorsarch
  42. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named narthofficers
  43. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named narthadvisors
  44. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named NARTHcomment
  45. FactsAboutYouth.com About Us. FactsAboutYouth.com. URL accessed on 2010-05-04.
  46. includeonly>McEwen, Alvin. "Phony Medical Group Attempting to Peddle Anti-Gay Propaganda to Schools", 2010-05-04.
  47. George A. Rekers. Welcome to Teen Sex Today. URL accessed on 2012-02-15.
  48. The IAII Team. InterAct International Inc.. URL accessed on 2012-02-15.

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