Conversion Therapy and Minors

We can have the debate about Conversion Therapy. This is, for the few who might not be aware, when groups attempt to use therapy to “cure” homosexuals.

This therapy is much better known for well-publicized failures (usually involving the delicious irony of a group leader caught with their pants down, literally in some cases) and as far as I know actual scientific studies into the effectiveness of such therapies shows that results are at best inconclusive and at worst mostly unsuccessful.

We can debate the affectiveness of this kind of therapy and share anecdotes and make But I’m A Cheerleader the SD Movie Of The Week. Although I am pretty sure that’s happened here at some point. (Not everyone viewing the movie; though everyone should see it, it’s a gas.)

However, here’s a new wrinkle:

This is a whole 'nother kettle of worms…

I don’t think there is anything wrong with being gay and I question the ability of any therapy to change one’s sexual orientation. And I think that government does have a role in making laws to protect children from abuse, medical quackery or unfit parents in general.

However, while I may find it personally repugnant that a parent would subject their child to such therapy, I also find it repugnant that parents do a great many things with their children, none of which I could make a case for criminalizing.

And even if this is made illegal, a gay child will still reside in a house hostile to his or her sexuality, possibly even more hostile since the government is stopping them from doing what they feel is best as parents. To be sure, this law won’t involve gay kids and teens being removed from parents who disapprove of their sexuality regardless of their now inability to ship them off to anti-gay camp. And I don’t think it should.

Also, won’t freedom of religion come into this somehow? It’s pretty obvious that an overwhelming majority of such therapy outfits are religiously affiliated themselves or get most of their patients through churches. In fact, I would be surprised if there were any specifically secular groups who offer gay-to-straight therapy, but even if a few are around they would have to be in the minority.

There’s a line in my mind (and I think in the law) between the government infringing on Constitutionally protected religious beliefs & the ability for parents to instill them into their kids and holding parents accountable for injuries or death that might come from witholding medical treatment because they are a Christian Scientist, or handling snakes in a Pentecostal church ceremony.

What side of the line is this on?

This is medical fraud driven by bigotry, with an known tendency to drive people to suicide. It’s about as abusive as beating the children.

I’m also not sure it will keep parents from sending their kids overseas (or having them grabbed and dragged off like some do; essentially parent sponsored kidnapping) to camps outside of American laws where the kids can be beaten, starved, tortured or killed without recourse.

Freedom of religion doesn’t justify abuse, nor are the kids freely consenting adults.

I wondered about this, too, but I find I don’t object to banning a quack therapy for children. Adults can do what they want with their sexual orientation regardless of how screwed up their ideas are, but I don’t think subjecting children to psychological torture falls under religious freedom or parental choice.

I like your post however:

Unless you can show me a country that allows kids to be “starved, tortured or killed without recourse,” then this is simply wrong. Also, I don’t think you will find that Coversion Therapy involves killing (even if you do make the claim that it can lead to suicide).

I get that you still feel that the law should still exist even if it is trivially easy to circumvent through other means. No need to add unnecessary emotional hyperbole to that argument.

Haven’t you ever read the news? There’s plenty of hellholes out there where you can get away with brutalizing or killing children.

Even if they don’t intend it, the starvation, neglect, environmental exposure and physical abuse can and have killed people in such anti-gay/anti-atheism forced conversion camps.

I’m going to vote that it is not in the states interest to outlaw conversion therapy. As others have noted, there is a long long loooooonnnnnngggg laundry list of bad ideas that well meaning or deeply misguided parents subject their children to. If we start legislating for every one of them we would never even get close to making a real dent.

And if the kid dies, sucks to be him I guess. We should probably legalize beating and molesting kids while we are at it to be consistent.

False dilemma-either we should fix all bad ideas, or fix none of them. This disregards the fact that some ideas might be much worse than others, I think.

Can we prove that it harms kids? Even if it’s easy to prove it doesn’t work, that’s not the same thing, I don’t think… (Note that I do think it is harmful, but I wonder if there is evidence to back this up.)

Do you have a cite for American children being killed overseas without consequences? Or people killed while in conversion therapy?

The way I see it there should be a recognized difference between bad parenting and insane parenting. The state should tolerate the former while prohibiting the latter.

I think conversion therapy is bad. But is it insane? I don’t know. Lieu and Brown seem to think so but I don’t know the facts enough to know if they’re right or wrong.

Perhaps, but in the spectrum of harms, conversion therapy is not high on the list.

I have no idea what the “therapy” is for such things. I would guess it involves praying, which is worthless but not dangerous. It it starts into “fasting” or some kind of “discipline” for “bad” thoughts or behavior, then the state IMO has a justification for stopping in and stopping it.

The harm comes from the psychological baggage of from telling someone they can change when changing orientation is really not possible. These victims are set up for failure. Essentially they are told that if they love God enough then God will “cure” them. What do you think happens when they aren’t cured? These victims don’t simply shrug and move on. They think God has abandoned them or they aren’t good enough, or God hates them. That is terrible abuse. Suicide is not uncommon.

It can involve a good deal more than praying.

Is that available in non-pdf form? I can’t open it at work.

Yeahbut, IMHO the conversion therapy is just one stop on the long road that has a child’s parents and church, etc., deny their orientation and fight against it. Outlawing it will have little or no impact on the the family dynamics that underpin it as a choice. All of those things you state will still be present.

I disagree.
While having disapproving parents is incredibly hard on gay youths, conversion therapy has the air of legitimacy that can make the process even harder. I don’t think it is fair to say, well, they have shitty parents anyway so whats the big deal with a little more abuse.
Furthermore, if we’re going to make-up hypothetical parents and parental actions, I submit without proof: hypothetical parents who send their kids to conversion therapy are more likely to be ignorant than hateful. Take conversion therapy off the menu and I’d say there is a good portion of parents who will not be outright hateful, but merely disapproving, which while non-ideal, is less terrible.

Sure you can point to horrible hateful parents as examples and perhaps this law won’t help their kids, but their existence does not represent all parents who seek conversion therapy as a solution.

A little thought experiment - if you’re opposed to this law how would you feel if a gay parent put their straight 13 year old kid into conversion therapy to “turn them gay”? Would you find it acceptable or not? If not, would you be OK with such a thing being made illegal?

I did find a secular organization involved in this. NARTH - National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality - was formed in 1992 by Benjamin Kaufman, Charles Socarides, and Joseph Nicolosi. Kaufman wrote that the three of them founded NARTH because the American Psychiatric Association and similar professional organizations “had totally stifled the scientific inquiry that would be necessary to stimulate a discussion [about homosexuality].” NARTH’s leaders argue that the political atmosphere had changed, making it politically incorrect even to suggest the need for a dialogue that considers the question of the normality of homosexuality. Kaufman states that NARTH was formed in response to censorship of scientific investigation of politically unpopular views.

Basically, they are psychologists who think that the decision by the APA to remove homosexuality from the ranks of mental illness was a bad one. This part really makes me laugh:

“NARTH argues that mainstream health and mental health organizations have, in many cases, taken public positions on homosexuality and same-sex marriage that are based on their own social and political views rather than the available science.”

Physicians, heal thyself…

Also, their mission statement is that “We respect the right of all individuals to choose their own destiny,” meaning in theory at least, that they are fine with gays who are comfortable being gay to remain that way. But they are against the law when it comes to kids? Pretty strange. But considering all the religious groups they partner with, why should I be surprised that inconsistent, paranoid scientists wouldn’t join up with religious groups who fear a “homosexual agenda?” :rolleyes: