As of the first of August, the city of Seattle becomes the third city to ban all forms of “conversion therapy”, the pseudo-psychological “counseling” that some parents use to try and change their kids’ sexual orientation (also known as “reparative therapy”, “ex-gay therapy” or “pray the gay away”). While the rest of their states don’t have such protections, Cincinnati, Ohio and Miami Beach, Florida have also have banned “conversion” therapy — as has the entire District of Columbia. But though the practice is now illegal in six states including California, New Jersey and Oregon, it’s still legal in 44 states, and that’s a bummer for a number of reasons.
You see, “conversion therapy” uses a torturer’s array of brainwashing techniques including weird types of aversion therapy (negative reinforcement), solitary confinement, creepy religious messaging (“Scissoring is the devil!”), guilt-trippy “peer pressure” groups and old-fashioned put-downs and physical abuse.
Pretty much every American psychological association calls conversion therapy harmful. But despite President Obama’s support for a nationwide ban, it’s still legal in 92 percent of the U.S.
Even worse, in all 50 states, it’s still totally legal to send LGBT kids to abusive work camps that promise to “straighten out” troubled queer youth.
That doesn’t mean all hope is lost though. The fact that Illinois’ Republican governor approved the ban shows suggests a shifting conservative attitude in opposition to such so-called therapies. But we still have a looooooong way to go before LGBT youth are truly safe from state-sanctioned abuse in the name of “mental health.”
Previously published in an earlier form on August 22, 2015.