Air Force Academy has “ex-gay” cure advocate overseeing cadet character coaching

The US Air Force Academy hired a man to run their character coaching program for young cadets who, for the past two decades, has devoted his entire professional career to the cause of “curing homosexuality,” and who claims that he himself has been “cured” of the “addiction.”

The news of “ex-gay” activist Dr. Mike Rosebush running the academy’s character and leadership coaching program comes on the heels of growing concerns as to whether the academy is serious about becoming a welcoming place for gay cadets in the post-“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” era.

Rosebush is the chief of Character and Leadership Coaching at the US Air Force Academy, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, putting him in charge of a team of “coaches.”

Rosebush’s primary counseling experience before coming to the academy was in supposedly “curing” homosexuality and other “sexual addictions” since 1995.  Before that time, he was in the Air Force and also taught at the Academy.  His resume reads like a veritable who’s-who of anti-gay hate and pseudo-science.

Rosebush has ties to NARTH, Exodus and Focus on the Family

US Air Force Academy graduation (credit: U.S. Air Force Photo by Mike Kaplan/Released)

US Air Force Academy graduation (credit: U.S. Air Force Photo by Mike Kaplan/Released)

Rosebush is a former vice president of one of the lead religious right, and anti-gay activist, organizations, Focus on the Family, which is also headquartered in Colorado Springs.

Rosebush has also served as a clinical member of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), the lead group of quack scientists who claim to have found the cure for homosexuality.  The Southern Poverty Law Center has a long exposé on NARTH and it’s “junk science.”

And Rosebush also served as director of the Professional Counselors’ Network of Exodus International, what was once the lead “ex-gay” counseling group. Exodus has now admitted that it can’t cure gays, and has apologized for its make.

But neither his proven history of anti-gay activism, nor his embrace of pseudo-science, was enough to stop the Air Force from hiring Rosebush in 2011, after the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal legislation was signed into law.

As for the climate at the Air Force Academy for gay cadets, while some gay cadets say they are having no problem fitting in, others in recent interviews describe a “nightmare” where “extreme homophobes” are “outspoken and proud about it.”  They add that little happens to correct the character and leadership deficiencies of homophobic cadets at the academy.

Which brings us back to Rosebush.

Rosebush has devoted the past two decades of his professional life to “curing” gays

While the academy claims that Rosebush does not himself counsel cadets, he is in charge of the entire character and leadership counseling program at the Air Force Academy.  Clearly he has put his mark on the program, and his mark is one of bigotry and junk-science, neither of which has a place at a government institution training cadets – future leaders – of all persuasions.

And lest anyone attempt to claim that this is an issue of Rosebush’s religion, Rosebush does not hold a religious job at the academy, and our complaint is with his professional qualifications.  How does a man end up running counseling programs at the Air Force Academy when his main counseling experience is in anti-gay pseudo-science that has even been rejected his own former anti-gay employer, Exodus?

In a post-DADT world, the Air Force Academy is sending a troubling message to young cadets when it hires a counselor who is an expert in the “fact” that an entire class of cadets suffers from an “addiction,” and is in need of a “cure.”

Take a look at Rosebush’s “employment history” on ZoomInfo – it’s all anti-gay/”ex-gay.” It, like most of Rosebush’s anti-gay bios, doesn’t even bother listing his former Air Force experience. Rosebush wasn’t hired by the Air Force in spite of his anti-gay activism, he was hired because of it:

mike-rosebush-employment-history

You’ll see “Coaching Confidant” as the top of the employment list.  That’s Rosebush’s former business in which he counseled people, exclusively by phone, about their sexual addictions, including curing them of their homosexuality. Here’s the home page that was taken down, but AMERICAblog obtained a copy. Note the endorsement from Exodus on the right side of the site:

coaching-confidant-air-force-academy-gay

And here’s the section of Rosebush’s Web site devoted to “curing homosexuality”:

coaching-confidant-air-force-academy-gay-2

And here’s a bit more on “what matters most about Dr. Mike Rosebush” – it’s a bit odd:

mike-rosebush-air-force-academy

Rosebush is also an author.  He wrote “Sanctifying Coaching: Sexual purity and peace for Christian men with same-sex attractions.  Here’s a little of the blurb for the book on Amazon:

coaching-confidant-air-force-academy-gay-eDr. Rosebush’s Sanctification Coaching provides the groundbreaking methods that helped his clients achieve sexual purity, peace and heterosexual confidence. If you are a Christian tired of being distressed over your same-sex attractions, then Sanctification Coaching was written for you!

Dr. Rosebush is also a contributing author to The Handbook of Therapy for Unwanted Homosexual Tendencies: A Guide to Treatment. Dr. Rosebush has decades of success in counseling Christian men who struggle with same-sex attractions.

I pulled up that Handbook on Google. Let me share with you Rosebush’s biography from the book – pay close attention to the last sentence of the bio:

rosebuch-cover rosebush-bio

Rosebush refers in his bio to gay men as “homoerotically-capable men.” This appears to be a play on the word “handicapable,” used to describe to people with disabilities.  And it would be somewhat troubling associating being gay with a disability. Does Rosebush think gay Air Force Academy cadets are “disabled”?

(Note that Rosebush contributed to the handbook alongside Joseph Nicolosi of NARTH and George Rekers, also of NARTH, who famously resigned after being caught bringing a rent-boy with him to Europe to “carry his luggage.”)

Rosebush’s Exodus job sounds a lot like his current job with the Air Force

But what’s potentially most disturbing about Rosebush, and problematic for the Air Force Academy, is that his prior work sounds an awful lot like his current work.  Here’s one of Rosebush’s biographies from “Strength in Weakness,” another “cure the gays” organization he’s affiliated with:

Dr. Rosebush also worked with Exodus International, the worlds largest faith based organization in helping those who live with unwanted same-sex attractions. There he oversaw the qualifications and training of Exodus International-Approved counsellors, and coordinated Exodus’ counselling [sic] ministry with other Christian and secular counselling [sic] organizations around the world.

Rosebush was a counseling coordinator for Exodus, and that’s exactly what he’s doing for the US military.  And while being a professional anti-gay might have flown in the days that the US military officially discriminated against gay service members, in todays’ military, Rosebush’s views are not simply anachronistic, they’re potentially harmful.  From the American Psychological Association’s most comprehensive review of the subject to date:

The American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation conducted a systematic review of the peer-reviewed journal literature on sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) and concluded that efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm, contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocate.

And one final point. Lest Rosebush try to claim that his anti-gay work has nothing to do with his current job at the Air Force, I’d ask “why not?”

Rosebush’s entire career for the past two decades has been devoted to “curing” gay people of what he clearly deems a problem, and what his former employers consider an illness and a depravity. How then could Rosebush not include a discussion of sexual orientation in his character and leadership coaching at the US Air Force Academy?

One doubts that Focus on the Family, NARTH, or Exodus (before Exodus apologized, and basically closed up shop) would ever claim that an openly-gay cadet was a person of good character or good leadership.  So why would Rosebush leave something he deems so professionally important out of his work at the Academy?  Or hasn’t he?


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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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