Oklahoma LGBT+ rights advocate leads petition to end conversion therapy

By Jordan Redman
Staff Writer

Sage Mauldin, Human Rights Commissioner for the City of Norman and Adjunct Professor of Human Relations, is petitioning the Oklahoma State Legislature.

His message is clear, "Oklahoma State Legislature, Ban Conversion Therapy for Minors!"

The Change.org petition:

"In the Sooner State, conversion therapy for minors is legal.

Conversion therapy--also known as reparative therapy or sexual reorientation therapy--endeavors to change a person's non-heterosexuality to heterosexuality or a transgender person's gender expression to match their assigned sex at birth. This form of "therapy" is cruel, harmful, and tantamount to torture and has been repudiated and declared pseudoscience. 

The side effects of conversion therapy include (but are not limited to) depression, suicidality, anxiety, shame, self-blame, loss of faith, self-hatred, substance abuse, feelings of anger and betrayal, decreased self-esteem, feelings of being dehumanized, hostility and blame toward parents, stress, social withdrawal, loss of friends, and problems with sexual and emotional intimacy. 

We need Oklahoma to join New Jersey, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Illinois, and Oregon in banning conversion therapy. 

Organizations including the American Psychological Association, American Counseling Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American School Counselor Association, and  National Association of Social Workers have repudiated conversion therapy and declared conversion therapy pseudoscience.

Banning conversion therapy would send a clear message to our LGBTQIA youth: that their sexual orientation and/or gender identity is neither something to be ashamed of nor something to be changed.

This is why we are asking the Oklahoma State Legislature to ban conversion therapy for minors."

Mauldin spoke with The Gayly briefly about the petition.

The Gayly: Why is this issue important to you?

Mauldin: "My advocacy work revolves around one thing: creating social change that is democratic, inclusive, and just—for everyone. In Oklahoma, there are “doctors” convincing our LGBTQIA youth to change their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This barbaric process is known as conversion therapy—also known as reparative therapy or reorientation therapy. No one should be forced to be someone they are not. Everyone should be valued and treated with dignity and respect for their authentic, true self, for who they are at their core, regardless of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Nationally, LGBTQIA youth have taken their lives because of conversion therapy. As a country, we can be better than this. As a country, we will be better than this. As Oklahomans, we owe it to ourselves, and especially to our LGBTQIA youth, to work toward building an Oklahoma wherein everyone feels welcomed, included, and valued and is treated equitably and with dignity and respect."

The Gayly: What impact do you hope the petition has?

Mauldin: "I desire a House Bill to be authored banning conversion therapy for minors in Oklahoma. I also desire for our LGBTQIA youth to know their sexual orientation and/or gender identity is neither something to be ashamed of nor something to be changed."

The petition currently has 160 signatures, Mauldin hopes to reach 5,000.

Sign the petition, here.

The Gayly. February 13, 2018. 12:15 p.m. CST.