Guide to protecting children from conversion therapy

HRC and NCLR guide for parents on the dangers of conversion therapy.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) released a new, plain language guide for parents dealing with a child’s coming out process. The guide, titled Just As They Are, helps parents recognize when and how conversion therapy is promoted, provides information about the dangers of the practice, and outlines best practices for parents seeking to promote the health and well-being of their LGBTQ child, including finding inclusive counseling services and churches. 

The nearly 50 page guide is clear and easy to use to learn about conversion therapy, including sections on “What is conversion therapy?”, Does conversion therapy work?”and “How do you spot it?”

The what can you do starts  out by saying, “Parents struggling with the realization that their child is LGBTQ often don’t know where to turn, how to best help their child, and how to best help themselves.”

And therein lies the problem for many parents. A quick internet search brings up many website tolling the supposed benefits of conversion therapy. They are often from religious organizations, or from right-wing anti-LGBT+ websites like the Family Research Council (FRC).

FRC’s website has a whole section purporting to answer questions about conversion therapy, or SOCE (Sexual Orientation Change Efforts) as they call the discredited “therapy”. It even goes so far as quoting an American Psychological Association (APA) study in 2009 that would lead people to believe that the APA is neutral on the issue. APA adopted a resolution that says there is “insufficient evidence” to support conversion therapy.

HRC and NCLR made the decision to help parents make decisions. “Parents need and deserve information and guidance they can trust when they are helping their children navigate issues around their sexual orientation and gender identity, not discounted theories and dangerous so-called therapies,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC Senior Vice President for Programs, Research and Training.

“Even as more families within all faith communities open their hearts and embrace their LGBTQ loved ones, in too many homes across the country, LGBTQ youth continue to face rejection, bullying, and the harmful impacts of ‘conversion therapy.’ We must redouble our efforts to educate families and communities about the terrible dangers of efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity and that is why we are proud to partner with NCLR to release Just As They Are - so that parents have the information and resources they need to protect the health and wellbeing of their LGBTQ children.”

"The American Psychological Association has linked so-called ‘conversion therapy’ to depression, substance abuse and even suicide, and these risks are particularly acute for youth," said National Center for Lesbian Rights Youth Policy Counsel and Born Perfect Campaign Coordinator Carolyn Reyes. "That’s why Just As They Are is so critical. We need parents to know the signs, to recognize harmful and discredited conversion therapies, and understand the gravity of what’s at stake: the lives of our LGBTQ youth. All of our youth are born perfect.”

HRC, in announcing Just As They Are, said, “There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior. The dangerous practice is condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Medical Association.”

Conversion therapy on minors is banned in 10 states and the District of Columbia. There are numerous state efforts to enact bans.

You can download a pdf copy of Just As They Are here.

Copyright The Gayly – September 12, 2017 @ 3:10 p.m. CDT.