While the “dog days of August” may seem like the perfect time to send your(gay) child to camp, don’t be tempted by ex-gay camps! You may be a Molotov cocktail of emotions at this time: sadness, fear, disbelief, guilt, shame, right? But whatever you’re feeling, don’t think your child’s sexual orientation is a problem that needs “fixing,”and can be solved by one of these brainwashing programs! Ask yourself why is it important for your gay child to become heterosexual in the first place!
What are these “Pray-a-Gay Away” Camps?
These boot camps are run by Christian ministries. They may sound good on paper, but they use behavior modification to make your child act straight and suppress his/her homosexual feelings. The camps operate on the premise that people are gay because of early childhood abuse and/or arrested emotional growth. Ionically, they arose in the 1970’s when the American Psychological Association declassified homosexuality as a “mental disorder.”
Gay-to-Straight Seldom Works! Think “La Cage Aux Folles.”
In 2009, the American Psychological Association concluded that
there is insufficient evidence that reparative or gay-to-straight therapy works. According to a more recently published poll, the Human Rights Campaign found that 69% of American public believe such practices are ineffective.
Caveat Emptor! “Conversion Therapy” is In Dr.’s Offices, too!
Camps aren’t the only places that practice “conversion” therapy. Although the American Psychological Association frowns upon reparative therapy, there is still a minority of mental health therapists who practice it. Stay clear! This therapy can cause more harm, reinforce self-hatred which can result in depression and suicide.
Your child would be better off in community-based centers with other gay teens or with therapists who would teach them self-acceptance and certainly in your home where they feel safe, validated and respected.
What do you think?
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.