I am writing in support of Guidance Document 125-9, on the Practice of Conversion Therapy, which would protect youth under the age of 18 from so-called “conversion therapy” at the hands of licensed psychologists in Virginia.
As an ordained minister in The United Methodist Church, and especially as a campus minister at a state university for more than 20 years, I am familiar with the struggles young people especially have with naming and claiming their identity as a LGBTQIA person. That journey of self-discovery and acceptance is impeded and made unnecessarily more difficult when conversion therapy is foisted upon them, or presented as a way out of the sexual identity.
As you well know, the guidance provided by this document will protect youth from so-called “conversion therapy,” a dangerous and discredited practice aimed at changing their sexual orientation or gender identity. These dangerous and discredited practices are based on the false claim that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ) is a mental illness that needs to be cured—a view with no scientific basis. These harmful practices use rejection, shame, and psychological abuse to force young people to try and change who they are; they are known to be extremely dangerous and can lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, and even suicide attempts.
Guidance Document 125-9 provides excellent ways to protect young people from state-licensed therapists in Virginia who falsely claim to parents and youth that being LGBTQ is a mental illness, and therefore taking advantage of parents and harming vulnerable youth.
No one should ever be told that they were made anything but perfectly acceptable as they are. Yet, young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people are often told that they need to change who they are—or face a life full of rejection by their family, their faith, and God. That message is antithetical to the message of Jesus who embraced all people, and certainly means not to turn away when we see one of our own being singled out and targeted. As a caring Christian and pastor it has been my understanding and commitment to strive to ensure the safety of our children. We cannot lose one more of our own to the depression and suicide these discredited and damaging practices too often cause.
Thank you for taking the time to read my comments.
Rev. David M .Hindman Ed.D