Government report: End ex-gay conversion “therapy” for LGBT youth

The US government is doubling down on its position that trying to “cure” teenagers of same-sex attractions is unscientific abuse, releasing a report calling for a ban on the practice. From Reuters:

The report released today by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) comes less than a year after the Obama administration endorsed efforts to ban the practice, which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

“Conversion therapies or other efforts to change sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression are not effective, reinforce harmful gender stereotypes and are not appropriate mental health treatments,” said SAMHSA Special Expert on LGBT Affairs Elliot Kennedy.

The report instead calls for LGBT youth to “be supported in their right to explore, define, and articulate their own identity.”

Anti-conversion therapy protest, via Daniel Tobias / Flickr

Anti-conversion therapy protest, via Daniel Tobias / Flickr

The report jives with literally every major medical and mental health organization that has weighed in on conversion therapy, and they have all said that the practice has precisely zero empirical support. As the report reads, “none of the existing research” supports the idea that sexual orientation can be changed through therapy, religious or otherwise. The only effects the practice has been shown to have are increased risk for depression, substance abuse and self harm among teenagers who are struggling with their sexual and gender identities.

Those who practice conversion therapy are unlicensed, and many have had religious (as in, not medical) training. While it would be completely illegal for me to set up a psychiatry business without a license and tell people who are completely healthy that they are in fact psychologically disordered, this is somehow alright because the organizations in question are religious.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration called for a ban on ex-gay therapy. While bans are on the books in California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington, D.C., a bill that would ban the practice nationwide is stalled in the House.

(h/t Joe.My.God.)


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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9 Responses to “Government report: End ex-gay conversion “therapy” for LGBT youth”

  1. kutasyk says:

    I know how to cure gays. The therapy is 100% effective if you use this method:
    1) Get the leftover food and chop into pieces (any food is good)
    2) Add some pieces of raw fish, a glass of milk, and small chunks of pizza
    3) Put in a large pot, pour some warm water to the top and stir real good
    4) Cover up with a lid tight and let sit for a week
    After one week move the foam away and start drinking the liquid. The more the better!
    And then you will understand what your a.. is for.

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  3. Snorlaxation says:

    It’s about time that these harmful ‘treatments’ were done away with, or at least outlawed.

    Shock therapy seems to be on the same level negative reinforcement, wherein if you find yourself liking something, shock them, hit them, hurt them, everytime they enjoy it, so that they’ll stop, which doesn’t mean you STOP liking what it is your looking at, or watching, just that you’re scared to do so.

    I’m hoping this is the beginning of the end for the conversion therapy pseudo-science.

  4. The_Fixer says:

    Religious organizations are given somewhat of an exemption to licensing requirements regarding what is supposed to be “spiritual counseling.” It is supposed to be limited to matters regarding the practice of that particular religion.

    Being as religious zealots claim that everything is a matter of faith, and especially anything that has to do with our “sinful, icky parts.”

    While I think they should not be allowed to counsel at all, I realize that’s not gonna fly. So, we have to legally figure out how to stop such cruelty. Trying to parse this out is a rather lengthy process, but it has been slowly happening. Courts have found that you can’t deny your diabetic child medical care for religious reasons. You can’t beat your child to death in an effort to get him or her to admit to “sinfulness”, as happened in New York yesterday – the perpetrators were arrested and will see trial. And you should not be allowed to psychologically torture a kid because you don’t think they are going to be doing sex “wrong”, or see themselves as a gender different from their physical birth gender. Trying to do so should get you jail time.

    This is one we will have to keep screaming about until it becomes totally illegal to attempt to change anyone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. If someone’s religious beliefs suffer, so be it. This is just as harmful as denying a kid medical attention and is a different kind of beating – a psychological one. We have to clearly delineate what is acceptable from the religious world and what is not. No amount of claim to religious freedom is a legitimate defense when what that religion is doing is demonstrably harmful.

    No matter how much Mike Huckabee might bitch, it’s immoral, just plain wrong and should be illegal.

  5. Samerica says:

    you mean Bruce Jenner’s transgender change is normal? NOOOOO!!!!!!!!

  6. Samerica says:

    they should also end THE DEMONCRAP PARTY PROGRESSIVE SOCIALIST BRAINWASHING
    WITH THE HELP OF DEMONCRAPS AND BIAS LIBERAL MEDIA AND TEACHERS AND EVEN
    FROM HOLLYWEIRD! OBOMBA HAS JUST PUSHED IT TO ANOTHER LEVEL OF STUPIDITY
    BY AMERICANS WHO AFTER ALL THE LYING SCANDALS AND FAILURE STILL BELIEVE THIS!

  7. gene458 says:

    I agree – we should end conversion therapy. Trying to make gays normal is hopeless.

  8. Indigo says:

    It used to be electro-shock aversion therapy. Then it was reparative therapy. And then ex-gay conversion therapy. I was victimized by the electro-shock aversion therapy back in the late 1950s. It was awful. It didn’t work but it did get me clear out of the closet a full decade ahead of Stonewall. Thank you, Mattachine, for being there in those days. As for criminal charges, who’s going to start the ball rolling with a class action suit? And whom do we aim it at?

  9. Bill_Perdue says:

    This is very good news.

    The brutalization of our youth by these barbaric quacks and pederasts is a festering national scandal.

    Torture and sexual assaults have been reported and both have taken their toll.

    LGBT youth belong first of all to our communities and we should aid them in any way we can. We should have programs to emancipate them from their bigoted parents and make those bigots pay legal costs for emancipation and then household and educational/training and rehabilitation costs.

    Criminal charges are due for the all the operators and employees of those snake pits and for the leaders of the cults they’re affiliated with. All the assets of the owners of these camps and the cults associated with them should be confiscated without compensation to pay damages to people tortured and sometimes raped in these camps.

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