Last night, I watched with horror the testimony of gay boy named Lucas who ran away from a Restoration Youth Camp in Alabama. His adoptive Christian parents from Naples, Florida sent him to an unlicensed pray-the-gay-away camp because they couldn’t deal with his homosexuality. Lucas ultimately ran away from the camp as he was beaten, put into solitary confinement. He testified against the camp pastor who received twenty years for manslaughter after a town Police Chief Charles Kennedy stood up for Lucas and other children after he was handed notes written by the minors about the deplorable conditions that Kennedy later saw for himself. As Lucas reported about Restoration, “at least in prison, you get three meals a day. They try to beat the gay out of you. It’s spiritually abusive.”
Similarly, a lesbian, Sarah, was sent by her parents to The Heartlight Christian School in Longview, Texas. It’s a residential counseling program for teens who “struggle with a wide range of behavior and emotional issues.” Sarah’s T.V. celebrity cousin, Jeremy Jordan, started a GoFundMe page, seeking to get attorney fees to get Sarah out of Heartlight. She, too, didn’t want to be converted.
Both these institutions were trying to use religion as a weapon. You can’t convert LGBT children to heterosexuals. You can’t “pray-the-gay” away. No psychological treatment or spiritual counselling is effective in changing a person’s sexual orientation.
The American Psychiatric Association and The American Medical Association oppose reparative or conversion therapy. In fact, they call the treatment unethical. Homosexuality is no longer regarded as a disease in the eyes of the psychiatric community. Yet, although the effects can be dire resulting in depression, guilt, and even suicide, the practice is only outlawed in six states (Oregon, Illinois, New York, Vermont, New Jersey, California) and the District of Columbia. However, other states are considering laws against this disreputable practice.
It is uncanny that the day before the 20/20 show aired, March 10, reparative therapy’s founder, Joseph Nicolosi of the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic, died at age 70.
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.