States are starting to ban conversion therapy, the harmful practice of attempting to convert someone who is gay to straight. It doesn’t work. And it is dangerous.
I’m reminded of the day when it was “wrong” to be left handed. Left handed children were forced to learn to write with their right hand and do all other tasks with their right hand. This was a harmful practice that eventually was stopped. We now see there is nothing wrong with being left handed.
Conversion therapy is far worse than forcing someone to write with their non-dominant hand. In fact, it can be done although it is not a good practice and cause a lot of emotion upheaval in those who were forced to use their non-dominant hand.
With conversion therapy, you can convince someone not to act on their same-sex attraction, but you cannot change someone from gay to straight. Sexual orientation is a natural part of a person, just as their hair color, skin color and eye color. It just is who they are. There is nothing wrong with them. And there is nothing that needs to be changed.
When a young person is forced into conversion therapy (I actually wouldn’t call it therapy at all), it can cause long term emotional damage. Some of the risks include depression, suicidality, substance abuse, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, feelings of self-hatred and others.
The truth is that even those who claim to have become heterosexual, most if not all of them still have same sex attraction. In 2009, the American Psychological Association conducted a comprehensive review of the published literature on these practices and concluded that they are not supported by any reliable evidence. In fact, the APA found that the opposite was true: “The results of scientifically valid research indicate that it is unlikely that individuals will be able to reduce same-sex sexual attractions or increase other-sex attractions…”
What can you do to help? The National Center for Lesbian Rights is providing support and assistance to advocates who are seeking to enact laws that ban conversion therapy across the country. If you would like to help enacting a similar law in your state, please contact #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator & Youth Policy Counsel Carolyn Reyes at BornPerfect@NCLRights.org. For more information, check out the information on the NCLR site.