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3/19/19  6:05 pm
Commenter: Jack Tignor, Student(Norfolk Academy)

Conversion Therapy MUST Be Banned

After doing extensive research on the subject of conversion therapy in order to prepare for a speech I gave to my middle school in January, I was able to see and convey to my fellow students in the middle school that conversion therapy causes extremely harmful side effects like many personality disorders like depression, anxiety, and PTSD;it uses inhumane tactics that are obsolete and harsh, and it does not and simply cannot change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.  

Conversion therapy is widely known for the detrimental effects it causes and the high rate of suicide in those who have undergone the therapy. In an article entitled, “Change,” Efforts Double and Triple Rates of Depression, Suicide Attempts, Decrease Self-Esteem, Social Support, Education & Income in Young Adulthood, written as a part of the Family Acceptance Project by writer Cathy Renna describes how rates of suicide are drastically increased when member of the LGBTQ community undergo conversion therapy, “Rates of attempted suicide by LGBT young people whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation were more than double (48%) the rate of LGBT young adults who reported no conversion experiences (22%).” It is evident how drastically conversion therapy and its outrageous techniques increase levels of suicide in LGBTQ teens. Not only do the levels of suicide increase, rates of attempt also drastically increase. In a study conducted by the Journal of Homosexuality, a peer reviewed journal studying homosexuals and mental health, in which 245 people of the LGBT community between the ages of 21 and 25 completed a series of mental health measures and the study concluded that, as Jack Turban states in his November 2018 Psychology Today article entitled, Gay Conversion Therapy Associated with Suicide Risk, he states, “Those whose parents enlisted the help of a professional, a therapist, or religious leader to change their sexual orientation had a five-fold higher odds of having ever attempted suicide.” The journal concludes how drastically suicidal attempts increase because of the therapy, not homosexuality. It is clear how conversion therapy significantly increases suicide rates and attempt of suicide.

The methods used in order to attempt to change one’s sexual orientation or gender are outrageously outdated and could even be considered torture. Samuel Brinton, a gay man that was forced by his father to undergo conversion therapy at the age of 12, speaks of the horrifying methods of therapy that he underwent in an interview in a 2011 October article entitled, “Victim of Baptist gay conversion therapy describes how he was tortured at 12, from The Daily Mail, “Freezing ice cubes were placed in his hands while he was shown pictures of men hugging - so that he would associate pain with intimacy between men. He was then repeatedly burned when shown similar images but untouched when images of men and women together were shown.” From Samuel Brinton’s story it is clear that conversion therapy uses techniques that are obsolete and cruel for those who undergo sexual orientation change efforts. In addition to the horrific techniques that were used on Samuel, therapists that administer conversion therapy usually also work to instill a self-hatred in their patients in an attempt to “convert” those who undergo therapy. Therapists instill this feeling by telling those who undergo conversion therapy that something is wrong with them or by teaching patients to hate the concept of homosexuality. 

This therapy has been proven to only create a hatred for oneself not one’s sexuality or gender. Because therapists administer this therapy as medical treatment they are able to use techniques of harsh abuse and inhumane nature with impunity. These techniques leave survivors of conversion therapy permanently damaged and can ruin lives. In a January 2018 New York Times Article entitled, “I Was Tortured in Gay Conversion Therapy. And It’s Still Legal in 41 States,” a survivor of conversion therapy recounts, “The therapist ordered me bound to a table to have ice, heat and electricity applied to my body. I was forced to watch clips on a television of gay men holding hands, hugging and having sex. Iwas supposed to associate those images with the pain I was feeling to once and for all turn into a straight boy. In the end it didn’t work. I would say that it did, just to make the pain go away.” This horrifying story shows how harsh and outdated the techniques used to attempt to change one’s sexual orientation are. When therapists attempt to change a homosexual’s orientation they use obsolete and harsh treatment methods that are torture and should no longer be practiced.

Finally, conversion therapy is baseless. It has recently been proven that homosexuality, contrary to the ideas promoted by supporters of conversion therapy practice, is not a choice for homosexuals. As Andy Coghlan, a writer for the New Scientist, states in his December 2017 New Scientist article entitled, What Do the New ‘Gay Genes’ Tell Us About Sexual Orientation, Coghlan states, “The latest findings open the prospect to identifying the whole pathway of genes involved in both homosexual and heterosexual orientation, says Dean Hamer at the US National Institutes of Health,” Hamer continues on to say, “It adds yet more evidence that sexual orientation is not a ‘lifestyle choice.’” Hamer’s findings only further proof that conversion therapy is a baseless practice that does not and cannot change one’s sexual orientation or gender. There is no logical basis for conversion therapy because homosexuality is hereditary. The lack of success in changing one’s sexual orientation or gender proves that homosexuality is natural and cannot be changed through therapy. Tia Ghose brings up this lack of success in the therapy in her April 2015 Live Science article entitled, “Why Gay Conversion Therapy is Harmful, Ghose states, “In 2009, an American Psychological Association task force conducted a review of studies on gay conversion therapy between 1963 and 2007. They found that sexual-orientation change was uncommon; participants continued to be attracted to members of their own sex and not to those of the opposite sex.” The study conducted by the APA clearly shows how deeply the lack of success in the therapy roots in its past.

In conclusion, conversion therapy has been proven to cause significantly increased levels of suicide, uses extremely inhumane methods, and has been proven through numerous studies that it does not and cannot work. More horrific stories like that of Brinton’s happen every day, but if the Board of Psychology protects LGBTQ+ youth from the practice then thousands can be saved from this horrific and immoral practice.

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