The Cruel Dangerous Reality Of Gay Conversion Therapy
Gabriel Arana was a teenager when his parents found out he was gay. His mother, concerned his life would be too difficult as a gay man, immediately booked an appointment with a therapist, Joseph Nicolosi, who promised to cure him of his homosexuality.
Arana, who later wrote about the experience for American Prospect in 2012, was experiencing what is often referred to as gay conversion therapy therapy intended to get rid of same sex attraction. He is not alone. A recent £4.5 million government survey found that 2 per cent of its 108,000 UK respondents had undergone conversion therapy a further 5 per cent had been offered it.
An LGBTQ+ action plan has been created in response to the report, with prime minister Theresa May pledging an end to the practice. MP Penny Mordaunt, minister for women and equalities and publisher of the report, has also said she will consider all legislative and non-legislative options to prohibit promoting, offering or conducting conversion therapy.
Our intent is protect people who are vulnerable to harm or violence, whether that occurs in a medical, commercial or faith-based context, she wrote. We are not trying to prevent LGBT people from seeking legitimate medical support or spiritual support from their faith leader in the exploration of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
What Is Conversion Therapy
Conversion therapy is any attempt to change a persons sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. However, because the practice has come under increasing scrutiny, providers frequently change their terminology to avoid detection. Some of those terms can seem relatively harmless at first glance. Here are a few examples
- Sexual Orientation Change Efforts
- Sexual Attraction Fluidity Exploration in Therapy
- Eliminating, reducing or decreasing frequency or intensity of unwanted Same-Sex Attraction
- Reparative therapy
- Addressing sexual addictions and disorders
- Sexuality counseling
- Encouraging relational and sexual wholeness
- Healing sexual brokenness
Proponents of conversion therapy often intentionally conflate the attempted altering of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression with the treatment of an actual condition such as sexual addiction. Some claim they are helping clients explore their sexual fluidity, or they emphasize that their clients struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions or gender confusion.
Is Conversion Therapy Condoned By Major Medical Organizations
No. Conversion therapy is not condoned by the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and The American School Counselor Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Medical Association. The American Psychological Association, advises parents, guardians, young people, and their families to avoid sexual orientation change efforts that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder. 3 The American Medical Association, opposes, the use of reparative or conversion therapy that is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.
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What Would Be Banned Under A Bill
Any act or practice would be banned under a Bill that:
- Is directed against a specific individual or group of individuals and
- Is undertaken on the basis of the individuals perceived gender identity or sexual orientation and
- Attempts to suppress, ‘cure’, or change their gender identity and/or sexual orientation with a predetermined purpose.
What Would Criminalisation Of Conversion Practices Not Include
- Holding, writing, teaching, preaching, researching, reporting or any other form of declaration of belief about the morality, ethics, or preference of any sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual relationships, or forms of religious or legal recognition of relationships.
- Supporting a person with personal, emotional, psychological or spiritual struggles with their sexual orientation or gender identity where that support does not seek to direct that person to suppress, cure, or change their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Exploring in therapy or private conversation or any other setting a persons sexual orientation or gender identity without a predetermined purpose.
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List Of Us Organizations That Have Denounced Conversion Therapy:
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- American Academy of Physician Assistants
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
- American Association of School Administrators
- American Associations of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapist
- American College of Physicians
- National Association of School Psychologists
- National Association of Secondary School Principals
- National Association of Social Workers
- National Education Association
- School Social Work Association on America
- United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights
- World Health Organization
Lasser J S & Gottlieb M C Treating Patients Distressed Regarding Their Sexual Orientation: Clinical And Ethical Alternatives Professional Psychology: Research And Practice 35 194
Homosexuality and bisexuality have not been considered psychopathologies for many years, and recent research has suggested a wide variety of etiological considerations, many biologically based, to account for same-sex desire. Nevertheless, many patients still present with questions and distress regarding their sexual orientation. The authors address the question of how practitioners may manage these situations. To this end, the authors briefly review the background of the relevant issues, make various assumptions, consider therapists values, and present 4 alternatives available to practitioners who may be confronted with this situation. Each alternative is discussed with regard to its relevant ethical issues and clinical implications.
Lingiardi, Nardelli, & Drescher, 2015
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Things You Should Know About Gay Conversion Therapy
A therapy that claims to convert gay people into heterosexuals is being tested in court with two new cases, one of which seeks to sue counselors offering the therapy and the other seeking to defend them.
Gay conversion therapy, as it is known, supposedly helps gay people overcome same-sex attractions. But mainstream psychologists say the therapy is ineffective, unethical and often harmful, exacerbating anxiety and self-hatred among those treated for what is not a mental disorder.
Here are five things you need to know about the therapy and the current lawsuits.
1. What’s happening in the courts?
Two new legal challenges are targeting conversion therapy. The first is a civil suit in New Jersey in which four former clients of a counseling group called Jonah are suing for deceptive practices. The patients argue they paid thousands of dollars for therapies that did not rid them of same-sex attractions, and that they then had to pay for mainstream therapy to repair the damage done by the conversion therapy.
In a second case in California, a federal judge is hearing arguments against a new state law that bans conversion therapy for minors. The bill was signed into law in September. Conservative legal groups claim the law is a violation of the right to free speech, freedom of religion and privacy.
2. What happens in conversion therapy?
3. Why psychologists say conversion therapy doesn’t work
4. How did conversion therapy get started?
How Do Young People Experience Conversion Therapy
Young people experience conversion therapy as a form of family rejection. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, warns that efforts by a therapist to change a minors sexual orientation may encourage family rejection and undermine self-esteem, connectedness and caring, important protective factors against suicidal ideation and attempts.
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The book is called, Outlove: A Queer Christian Survival Story.
I wanted people to see, to understand what happened, Rodgers told WTTW News. I thought, surely if Evangelicals, if conservative Christians knew how harmful this teaching is, then they would be moved to change. And I wanted them to see how hard we try and that we really, really want to be good. And that were not just, out to be sort of like these debaucherous rebels that we really are earnest. And I wanted them to just get a glimpse into the heart of somebody like me and hope that maybe theyll be moved to compassion and embrace us.
Rodgers was also featured in Pray Away. a Netflix documentary about the movement.
Ex-gay leaders are doing what they believe is the best thing for all of us, Rodgers says in a scene from Pray Away. The problem is that they think whole and healthy means trying to fit ourselves into something we cant be. I wish that they would listen to us and believe us when we say that we really are so much healthier and happier now that were no longer a part of that.
Watch a trailer for the film here. Below, an excerpt from Outlove.
Some of the people I love most in the world have followed in the footsteps of the prodigal son, Ricky said to the roughly one hundred of us in the audience who were seeking healing for our same-sex attractions. Theyve chosen to give in to their flesh, to turn away from the truth and embrace a debaucherous lifestyle.
Cates J A Identity In Crisis: Spirituality And Homosexuality In Adolescence Child And Adolescent Social Work Journal 24 369
Adolescents experiencing same-sex attraction are increasingly comfortable identifying themselves as gay/lesbian/bisexual. For at least a minority of these youth, that identification conflicts with their spiritual values, and they or their families seek conversion therapy. The efficacy of conversion and ethics of conversion therapy for same-sex orientation stirs significant debate. The complexities of an approach to same-sex issues with adults multiply when the client is an adolescent. This article uses three adolescent case studies to examine issues of identity, ethics, confidentiality, social expectations, and therapist role.
Cramer, Golom, LoPresto, & Kirkley, 2008
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Drescher J Im Your Handyman: A History Of Reparative Therapies Journal Of Homosexuality 36 19
Reparative therapy has come to generically define talking cures that claim to change an individuals homosexual orientation to a heterosexual one. Although other treatment modalities have also promised to cure homosexuality, the history of reparative therapies has become inexorably linked with that of psychoanalysis. This paper reviews the history and theoretical assumptions of psychoanalytically-oriented practitioners, beginning with Freuds juvenilization of gay people to the later analysts who pathologized and attempted to change same-sex attractions. The evolution of reparative therapists from medically concerned practitioners into antigay political activists is also discussed. The evolution of one branch of psychoanalytic theory into an antihomosexual political movement illustrates the permeability of boundaries between clinical issues and political ones. In their open support of antigay legislation, reparative therapists have moved from the traditional psychoanalytic center and have been embraced by conservative religious and political forces opposed to homosexuality. In doing so, they have apparently adopted religious organizational practices themselves, preaching dogma and stifling dissent. The increasing marginalization of reparative therapists from the psychoanalytic mainstream illustrates how psychoanalysis per se is neither gay-affirming nor condemning, although psychoanalytic practitioners may fall into either of these categories.
Connecting With Lgbtq Youth In Crisis
For more information about how to help LGBTQ youth and adults in crisis, consider visiting:
The Trevor Project: LGBTQ youth can call the free, 24/7 TrevorLifeline at 866-488-7386 to speak to a trained counselor.
LGBT National Help Center: LGBTQ individuals of all ages can receive peer-counseling by calling 888-843-4564.
Trans Lifeline: Transgender individuals in need of support can call 877-565-8860 to speak with volunteers who identify as trans and who are educated on the range of trans experiences within the community.
Crisis Text Line: Individuals in need of crisis support can text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor for free.
National Runaway Safeline: Youth and teens in crisis can call 1-800-786-2929 to speak with a trained volunteer who will listen, provide support and help determine next steps.
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Is Conversion Therapy Harmful For Lgbtq Young People
Yes. The American Psychiatric Association has made clear that, The potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.5 The Pan American Health Organization, a regional office of the World Health Organization, concluded that SOCE, lack medical justification and represent a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people.6 Furthermore, conversion therapy creates divisions between young people and their families, creating family rejection of young peoples sexual orientation.7
Are There Legal Protections For Michael
Some legal scholars have proposed that, because emotional trauma qualifies as abuse under state child abuse and neglect statutes, conversion/reparative therapy when initiated by parents without assent from a minor can be considered abuse if a court agrees that the harms arising from the therapy would be evident to a reasonably prudent parent . Others contend that the inadmissibility of psychological evidence in court proceedings and the difficulty of proving a substantial risk of harm from the therapy make legal protection uncertain for LBGT children and youth faced with involuntary or coercive religion-based treatment, particularly in LGBT-unfriendly jurisdictions .
In our case, however, unless the conversion camp employs licensed professionals, its activity is well within the law.
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Are There Any Laws To Protect Youth From Conversion Therapy
Yes. In 2012 California passed SB 1172 protecting youth under 18 from conversion therapy, and in 2013 New Jersey passed similar legislation. Bills have also been introduced in numerous other states. At the federal level Rep. Jackie Speier introduced the Stop Harming our Kids Resolution , aimed at protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy.
How Can I Help A Young Person Who Has Experienced Conversion Therapy
Encourage the young person to seek help if they are suffering or feeling depressed. The Trevor Lifeline is free, confidential crisis intervention and suicide prevention lifeline, available 24/7 at 866-488-7386. Family acceptance of a youths sexuality or gender identity is another important way to reduce the risk of suicide or substance abuse for the youth. If the young person is experiencing anxiety or other symptoms of mental illness, psychotherapy by a licensed mental health practitioner is encouraged.
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Beckstead A L & Morrow S L Mormon Clients Experiences Of Conversion Therapy: The Need For A New Treatment Approach The Counseling Psychologist 32 651
Perspectives were gathered of 50 Mormon individuals who had undergone counseling to change their sexual orientation. The data were analyzed using the constant comparative method and participant verification, thereby developing a grounded theory. A model emerged that depicted participants intrapersonal and interpersonal motivations for seeking conversion or reparative therapy, their perceived benefits and harms of such interventions, and the factors that facilitated self-acceptance and consolidation of a positive self-identity. Based on these descriptions, this study provides the foundation for a broader-based treatment approach , which is designed to produce individualized congruent solutions for religiously conflicted, same-sex-attracted clients.
Throckmorton W Initial Empirical And Clinical Findings Concerning The Change Process For Ex
Despite the controversy surrounding sexual reorientation, there are only a few published empirical reports concerning the experiences of ex-gays. Summarizing these reports, this article describes the role of religious variables in the change process. Some kind of change appears to occur for many who identify themselves as ex-gay. Although sexual orientation is not an easily defined or measured phenomenon, change over time is not theoretically unfounded or empirically unprecedented. Many of the individuals who report efforts to become ex-gay feel that the efforts were helpful, and a small percentage feel the efforts were harmful.
* This study is not based on primary, empirical research.
Tozer and Hayes, 2004
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Is Supporting A Person To Socially Medically And/or Legally Transition Not A Form Of Conversion Therapy
Gender-affirming therapy and gender transition healthcare are not conversion therapy.
The ban must not restrict the ability of transgender, including non-binary, individuals to transition and to access other healthcare provisions they require. Its vital that any legislation distinguishes between harmful conversion practices and other practices that help people come to a consensual, comfortable, and self-accepting place with their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Conversion practices focus on an individual based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, with the intention to change an individuals sexual orientation or gender identity. There is only one acceptable outcome in conversion therapy: to convert an individual to regain their presumed heterosexual, cisgender identities.
Gender affirming therapy is a patient-centred and patient-led approach to supporting individuals who are experiencing gender dysphoria, other forms of gender questioning, or who seek to transition socially, legally and/or medically. Gender affirming therapy starts from the premise that there is no predetermined expectation and that the patient has autonomy to explore and know their own gender identity, to decide on how they wish to live their lives in accordance with their gender, and to request and seek treatment in line with their own stated needs.
Schreier B A Of Shoes And Ships And Sealing Wax: The Faulty And Specious Assumptions Of Sexual Reorientation Therapies Journal Of Mental Health Counseling 20 305
Presents a study which examined the work of Warren Throckmortons assumption in his article `Efforts to Modify Sexual Orientation: A Review of Outcome Literature and Ethical Issues, from the same issue of the `Journal of Mental Health Counselling. Comments on his assumption of reorientation therapy Different stance to Thockmortons article Problems underlying reorientation therapies.
Steigerwald and Janson, 2003
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Therapy Is Designed To Help People Grow And Heal From Difficult Life Experiences Not To Convert Or Repair The Part Of A Person That Is Deemed To Be Flawed By Othersalternatives To Conversion Therapy
Intending to change a persons sexual orientation through therapy is not the goal of ethical therapy. Ethical therapists work collaboratively with their clients. In other words, the therapist should not be operating from any personal bias or ulterior motive and the person seeking therapy should be involved in establishing goals and guiding the therapy process. Therapy is designed to help people grow and heal from difficult life experiences, not to convert or repair the part of a person that is deemed to be flawed by others.
A person who seeks therapy for feeling conflicted about his or her sexual orientation or gender identity is not wrong to do so. Therapy can help to unravel the deeper emotional issues that give rise to ones conflicted feelings, leading a person to develop a deeper and more confident sense of self. There are many types of therapy that can help a person address feelings of confusion, anger, or shame, among others, or traumatic experiences such as discrimination, bullying, or sexual abuse.