It is not just a matter of free speech, it’s abuse

In Opinion

The mental health of many gay people are in the spotlight of the courts once again as “ex-gay” clinics find themselves under fire in New Jersey and California.

This comes on the heels of California’s newfound ban on conversion therapy for minors that was signed into law in September under the pen of Gov. Jerry Brown. Surprising no one, the proprietors of the therapies have challenged that law in court.

It’s not everyday that child abuse of any kind is so blatantly championed in court: What happenings go on in these lovely therapies?

As reported by the New York Times, the Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) clinic resorted to “treatments,” such as having patients strip naked in front of counselors as well as beat effigies of their mothers.

Freud would be pleased at the resurrection of blaming maternal units for sexual issues, but the rest of society would best leave the mama monster bash behind it.

Across a political aisle so large that no shopping soccer mom could travel it, the social conservative group Family Research Council (FRC), via their president Tony Perkins, pushes the “ex-gay” conversion efforts as a “non-judgmental” path to “wholeness.”

Oh Perkins, those words don’t mean what you think they mean.

The phrase “non-judgmental” means accepting someone as they are, within reason. “Wholeness” is so nebulous in this context that Perkins’ definition of it is probably not in the nearest nebula.

Space-case Perkins and his darkly hysterical “humor” has already earned his organization a spot on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) list of hate groups.

Mark Potok, a spokesman with the SPLC, has called the FRC on its rhetoric saying, “The FRC routinely pushes out demonizing claims that gay people are child molesters and worse—claims that are provably false.”

Proved by many it seems, as many psychiatric organizations shoot down “ex-gay” efforts—as well as homophobia in general—ever so elegantly.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) concluded in a 2009 study of the harms of conversion therapy that, “Same-sex sexual attractions, behavior, and orientations per se are normal and positive variants of human sexuality—in other words, they are not indicators of mental or developmental disorders.”

No mention of “wholeness,” APA? Whatever will Perkins think?

Now with that out of the way, can the madness stop? It won’t, no matter what the consequences are, even when they include “depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior” and “reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient,” as reported by the APA.

Real life examples of those are plenty, including Michael Ferguson, a former patient of JONAH who sought them out for services in 2008 when he thought that homosexuality was preventing his chance at happiness.

He is one of the people named in the suit, and has told the New York Times the harrowing emotional burden the experience has given him. “I was encouraged to develop anger and rage toward my parents. The notion that your parents caused this is a horrible lie,” he said.

Ferguson refers to the “non-judgemental” belief that upbringing causes homosexuality and that it can be cured.

Then there are the testimonials from the teenagers that were subjected to this abuse; make no mistake, this is clearly abuse. Mathew Shurka, in a video that has gone viral, confessed to have been submitted to reparative therapy in California after coming out to his father at the age of 16.

Shurka endured this for five years.

“(The reparative therapist) gave my father and (me) a guarantee that I’d be straight in six weeks,” he said. “It was pretty horrible—it was basically living the life of how to become straight based off of stereotypes.”

Then there is victim Jerry Spencer, who was forced to hold ice in his hands while looking at photos of men holding hands. James Guay was told by his therapist to fantasize about having sex with women.

Chaim Levin’s counselor was apparently a pervert, as he had him slowly undress in front of a mirror while being watched by the so-called “life coach.”

The only kind of life a coach like that could help create is a shortened one.

Aaron Bitzer, a man who is suing the state of California for its aforementioned ban, seems to have loved this sort of treatment. He claims the therapy cured him, but it is unbelievable that someone can submit that these treatments are healthy, fair, or safe for minors. Has he really bought into a delusion that is only leading him astray?

His attempts at bringing back these damaging practices will hurt countless gay youths, now and in the future, if said effort somehow succeeds.

Even if these harmful practices somehow “cured” Bitzer like he claims, it’s short-sighted on his part to completely ignore every word of many teenagers and adults who will testify—in open court, even—that they did not buy into what he and other extremist social conservatives are selling.

This is not a product that anyone should be buying for themselves—and most important of all—their defenseless young loved ones.

In all seriousness and compassion, think of the children.

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