Washington, D.C., November 4, 2013 ( – After a national backlash from social conservatives, the American Psychiatric Association (ASA) has dropped its designation of pedophilia as a “sexual orientation.” 

In May, the APA released the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). In this document, the first new edition in 10 years, the APA described pedophilia as a sexual “orientation.”

The classification went largely unnoticed until last month, when the NeonTommy blog of the Annenberg Digital News at the University of Southern California published a blog post critical of the terminology.


Social conservatives said calling pedophilia an “orientation” was a step towards normalizing pedophiliac behavior.

But within days, the APA changed the classification, noting in a press release “'Sexual orientation' is not a term used in the diagnostic criteria for pedophilic disorder and its use in the DSM-5 text discussion is an error and should read 'sexual interest.’”

The APA said the unwelcome attention from conservative Christians helped them turn out a more precise and accurate guide.

“In using [the term] sexual orientation, APA did not intend for it to be construed in the legal sense – as in a protected status under title IV and other legislation, but we learned that some may construe it that way,” a spokesperson who asked to remain anonymous told “Therefore, we changed the word to 'interest' so that it would be clear that APA is speaking in medical terms, and is not commenting on legal status.”

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The corrected text differentiates between mere impulses and actual actions. It notes that if people “are not functionally limited by paraphilic impulses,” and “they have never acted on their impulses,” then they have “sexual interest but not pedophiliac disorder.”

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver criticized this distinction, saying the APA’s publication could “provide pederasts with all the arguments they need to remove age of consent laws, and children will suffer.”

“If reclassifying pedophilia was merely an ‘error,’ it would have been caught” during the decade-long process of developing the new DSM, added Staver.

Just Facts President James Agresti told that the APA’s text changes – which only took place after aggressive action by social conservatives, and not through an internal corrective process – are a continuation of “a propensity for placing politics over science.”

Pedophilia was not the only category that saw a change from “orientation” to “interest.” Sexual masochism disorder and sexual sadism disorder also saw the same changes. The APA spokesperson told LifeSiteNews: “We want it to be clear that we are speaking in medical, not legal terms. In order to avoid any additional misinterpretations of the term 'orientation,' the research staff recommended replacing this term with 'interest' to maintain consistency.”

The APA has consistently noted the diagnostic assessment criterion for pedophilia has not changed – the only formal change to pedophilia itself was the name of the disorder, which was changed to “pedophilia disorder.”