Sixty-one years ago, at APA's 1956 Annual Convention in Chicago, Evelyn Hooker, PhD, presented her ground-breaking research on "normal homosexuals," debunking the popular myth that homosexual people are inherently less mentally healthy than heterosexual people. Hooker's work led to significant changes in how psychology views and treats people who are gay.
Since then, APA is proud to have been a leader in advancing a scientific perspective to improve the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, of increasing understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity as aspects of human diversity, and of reducing stigma, prejudice, discrimination and violence toward LGBT people.
APA advances this work though the Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, the Society for the Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity; and the Office on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity (2016 annual report).
What APA Does
The resources featured here demonstrate part of APA's commitment to apply psychology to the fundamental problems of human welfare and social justice, and the promotion of equitable and just treatment and full human rights as it pertains to LGBT people through education, training and public policy.
APA's Response to Efforts to Roll Back Progress on LGBT Rights and Health
Repeal and Replacement of the Affordable Care Act. APA has expressed vigorous opposition to efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which expanded health care to many LGBT people and their families. APA has sent letters to Congressional leadership and issued several press statements in opposition because the effort would cut nearly a trillion dollars from the Medicaid program and eliminate its coverage for a projected 14 million Americans, remove coverage from another 10 million Americans with private health insurance coverage, and eliminate the requirement that health plans cover mental health, substance use, and behavioral services. In response to the Congressional Budget Office issuing its scoring of the bill passed by the House and sent to the Senate, APA issued the following statement:
Data Collection: In March 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services decided to remove questions about LGBT people from two important federal surveys, the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants, and the Annual Program Performance Report for Centers for Independent Living. APA responded with the following strong recommendations that the questions be returned.
National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants (PDF, 341KB)
In February 2016, APA adopted the Resolution on Data about Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
“Religious Liberty” Legislation. Since 2010, there has been an increase in the number of state legislatures considering “conscience clause” legislation directed at academic programs that educate and train psychologists and/or the professional practice of psychology. This “conscience clause” legislation is part of a wider effort to allow people to refuse services based on their religious beliefs, framed as “religious liberty,” which typically is raised in the contexts of LGBT people and reproductive health care.
The APA Board of Educational Affairs and the Board of Professional Affairs has developed a tool kit addressing “conscience clause” legislation that makes the case for the need for psychologists to be competent to serve all members of the public, and offers tips for policy advocacy and understanding this type of legislation in the context of religious liberty traditions in the US.
LGBT Resources for Grassroots and State-Level Advocacy. Resources on legislative basics, working with the media, examples of advocacy by state psychological association, and more.
Evelyn Hooker, PhD
Learn more about Hooker and her work:
- Being Gay Is Just as Healthy as Being Straight
- The myth buster: Evelyn Hooker's groundbreaking research exploded the notion that homosexuality was a mental illness, ultimately removing it from the DSM
APA Policy Statements date from the first in 1975, Discrimination Against Homosexuals. They have endeavored to bring the best and most current research to bear on the most significant issues and questions confronting LGBT people and society at large.
In February 2016, APA's Council of Representatives adopted the Resolution on data about sexual orientation and gender identity.
Professional Resources and Public Education
Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity is a journal that APA publishes on behalf of the APA Div. 44 (Society for the Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity). The journal is only in its fourth volume, but has been very successful in terms of attracting authors and publishing highly cited and well-read content, with a strong international presence. The June issue features a three article special section on the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting, and there will be two reaction papers to the June special section in the September issue.
An ongoing task at APA is to distill the findings of research on LGBT issues and concerns and making them available to psychologists, students and the general public.
- Public Interest blog posts on LGBT topics
- Psychological Practice With LGBT People
- Public Information Brochures: Sexual Orientation/Homosexuality, Transgender/Gender Identity, Intersex Conditions
- Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation
- Report by the Task Force on Gender Identity and Gender Variance (PDF, 1.0MB)
- Lesbian and Gay Parenting
- Just the Facts about Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators and School Personnel
- More APA resources on LGBT people and concerns
Look Out the Window: How Phillis Lyon and Del Martin Built a Community
This new APA children’s book imprint by Magination Press was publish on June 5, 2017. Written for 4-8-year-olds, it tells the story of Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, San Francisco LGBTQ activists, and how their world transformed their community and had significant ripple effects throughout the world. The book includes a Reading Guide that provides helpful historical context, and a “Note to Parents, Caregivers, and Educators” about the importance of teaching LGBTQ history and culture to children. This is a unique way to introduce children to untold stories in history while also being a moving tribute to two notable women.
"This Day In June"
This uplifting and upbeat illustrated children's book shares the experience of attending an LGBT Pride festival. A Note to Parents and Caregivers provides information on how to talk to children about sexual orientation and gender identity in age-appropriate ways. The book received the Stonewall Award for the American Library Association's 2015 Youth Media Awards.
Orlando Pulse Nightclub Remembered
Public Interest Blog Posts