HRC and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), a national legal organization committed to advancing LGBTQ equality since 1977, has released Just As They Are, a comprehensive resource for parents on the harmful practice known as “conversion therapy.”
The guide helps parents recognize when and how conversion therapy is promoted, provides information about the dangers of the practice, and outlines best practices for parents seeking to promote the health and well-being of their LGBTQ child, including finding inclusive counseling services and churches. It features the voices of LGBTQ youth and young adults who have been subjected to this dangerous and debunked “therapy,” including Lynse, a gender non-binary and queer former congregant at Ted Haggard’s New Life Church, and Darren, a Black, gay, Christian man who once made his home in a church basement where he was forbidden from leaving without his pastor’s permission. Their stories highlight the devastating harm that conversion therapy, along with family and community rejection, can have on LGBTQ young people.
“Parents need and deserve information and guidance they can trust when they are helping their children navigate issues around their sexual orientation and gender identity, not discounted theories and dangerous so-called therapies,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC Senior Vice President for Programs, Research and Training. “Even as more families within all faith communities open their hearts and embrace their LGBTQ loved ones, in too many homes across the country, LGBTQ youth continue to face rejection, bullying, and the harmful impacts of ‘conversion therapy.’ We must redouble our efforts to educate families and communities about the terrible dangers of efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity and that is why we are proud to partner with NCLR to release Just As They Are – so that parents have the information and resources they need to protect the health and wellbeing of their LGBTQ children.”
“The American Psychological Association has linked so-called ‘conversion therapy’ to depression, substance abuse and even suicide, and these risks are particularly acute for youth,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Youth Policy Counsel and Born Perfect Campaign Coordinator Carolyn Reyes. “That’s why Just As They Are is so critical. We need parents to know the signs, to recognize harmful and discredited conversion therapies, and understand the gravity of what’s at stake: the lives of our LGBTQ youth. All of our youth are born perfect.”
There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior. The dangerous practice is condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Medical Association.
The report comes one day after World Suicide Prevention Day, when LGBTQ advocates raised the alarm that lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their non-LGBTQ counterparts, and a shocking 41 percent of transgender adults report having attempted suicide, most before the age of 25.
NCLR and HRC have partnered with state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation ending conversion therapy. Rhode Island recently became the eleventh jurisdiction — and the fourth state so far this year — to enact these crucially important protections. Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, and New Mexico all also have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice.
To read Just As They Are, visit http://www.hrc.org/resources/just-as-they-are.
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