Conversion Therapy – Letter to the Akron Beacon Journal

Pop quiz. What do the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Pediatrics
Pan American Health Organization (the North and South American branch of the World Health Organization), National Association of Social Workers, and former United States Surgeon General David Satcher all have in common? Answer: all have public policies or have made public statements rejecting gay conversion therapy. As Satcher stated in a 2001 report: “there is no valid scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed”. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that the therapy can be harmful to young people who are forced to undergo this “treatment”.

Parents may have broad discretion with how they treat their children, but that discretion doesn’t extend to unproven and potentially harmful forms of therapy. It also doesn’t extend to forcibly imposing their religious beliefs on some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Gay youth account for 40% of homeless teens, and 30% of completed suicide attempts. I have to wonder whether these numbers are at all influenced by parents that fail to accept their children for who they are, even when such acceptance goes against their beliefs. While Gov. Christie and I agree on very little, the bill he signed prohibiting conversions therapy in New Jersey does not represent an attack on parents or the family but protection of the rights of children.

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