As of 2019, only 15 states have laws protecting LGBTQ people against conversion therapy.
Conversion therapy is the practice of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This practice is not only harmful to the client, but it is also ineffective.
The American Psychological Association found no scientific evidence for the practice of conversion therapy–meaning people cannot change the level of attraction they have toward a certain gender or change someone’s gender identity.
In 2018, the Williams Institute at University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law released a report estimating 698,000 adults ages 18-59 have experienced conversion therapy. Of these adults, 350,000 experienced the practice in adolescence. The report also estimated that 20,000 youths ages 13-17 will go through conversion therapy from a licensed healthcare professional, and 57,000 more will go through conversion therapy from religious or spiritual advisors.
People who have undergone conversion therapy are likely to experience depression, anxiety and in some cases, suicidal ideation. The laws against the practice are typically targeted at licensed professionals, while religious leaders slip under the radar.
Conversion therapy is usually motivated by religion and parents seeking to “fix” their child’s sexual orientation.
This idea comes from the Bible’s many anti-gay quotes, namely Leviticus 18:22, which states, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”
The documentary “Kidnapped for Christ” tells the story of a teenager, David, who identifies as gay, but was sent to an overseas school for troubled youth called Escuela Caribe by his parents. The leaders at the school would administer “culture shock therapy,” in which the victims experienced intense forced labor and repetitive exercise, physical beatings, and extreme isolation.
Conversion therapy is a form of child abuse and it’s time to focus on banning conversion therapy from being given by both licensed professionals and religious leaders across all 50 states.