A couple of alert friends on Facebook and Twitter sent me these two items:
- CA Judge Blocks Ban On Gay Conversion Therapy, Says Not Harmful To Youth
- Homosexuality: Real Hope and Real Change
Then, this morning, another friend posted this:
(I want to make it absolutely, perfectly clear that I am not criticizing the friend who posted the picture; I’m using it for the reasons I will give below. The friend who posted it is a kind, thoughtful person and it was in no way related to either of the articles mentioned above.)
I think that the sentiment expressed in the picture is potentially true—but not when it comes to subjecting children to ex-gay therapy. The only reason for a parent ever to do such a thing is unquestionably out of fear.
Perhaps a person could say that I’ve never been in the position of a religiously conservative parent whose child has just come out; that’s absolutely correct. Yet I simply cannot imagine ever, for any reason, bringing my child to a therapist in an attempt to eradicate an essential part of who my child is. It doesn’t make any sense at all to me.
As a parent of a child with a diagnosed condition, I can’t imagine wanting him to be anything other than the person he is. Does he drive me crazy? Oh, yes. Do I worry that his impulsive nature might not only get him in trouble but land him in the hospital? Definitely. Do I think he needs help learning to navigate around his struggles? You bet. But do I want to stamp it out of him? Not a chance in hell.
I can wrap my mind around wanting the best for a child. I can comprehend believing homosexuality is sinful (whether or not I agree). I can even understand putting limits on an underage child’s behavior in regard to relationships (even straight teens have these boundaries in many families). What I don’t get is the misguided belief that you can alter that person in a fundamental way so that he or she fits your view of “normal,” especially using methods that are demonstrably harmful and ineffective.
As I mentioned above, the guiding principle is fear. I don’t think most parents—even those subjecting their children to ex-gay therapy—hate their children. I believe many of these well-meaning adults are afraid. There are a whole host of things they might fear, nearly all of which are lies perpetuated by religious organizations and repeated in churches. Whatever the reasons, they all stem from some variation on fear. Otherwise, there is no compelling reason for parents to do anything other than teach what they believe is moral, create rules for conduct, and allow their children to reach adulthood and make their own choices.
It breaks my heart that any parent would ever do such a thing to a child. If you want to understand the kind of harm this causes, please read this. Then read some of the other stories at the site. Don’t dismiss them just because you don’t agree. After that, you can read this article for some perspective on the effectiveness of such therapy. In either case, I hope you will understand why forcing minors into such programs is not healthy parenting.