Parents who attempt to use 'conversion therapy' to change the sexual orientation of their homosexual child are risking the very lives of the ones they purportedly love, according to a new study published by the Journal of Homosexuality,
The study concludes that parents who tried to change their LGBTQ child’s orientation doubled the chance of attempted suicide compared to those who did not undergo the practice. The risk of suicide tripled, the study showed, if a therapist or other outsider, such as a minister or priest, is included in the discussions.
"“Although parents and religious leaders who try to change a child’s LGBT identity may be motivated by attempts to ‘protect’ their children, these rejecting behaviors instead undermine an LGBT child’s sense of self-worth, contribute to self-destructive behaviors that significantly increase risk and inhibit self-care which includes constricting their ability to make a living,” said lead author, Dr. Caitlin Ryan.
The study reported that more than half of LGBTQ Caucasian and Latino/a young adults have faced such efforts, with more than half involving parents as well as therapists and religious leaders.
As the father of a gay son, I cannot fathom attempting such a thing. Yes, it is difficult to accept when your son first "comes out," -- even though you knew it, down deep, all along. Yes, it is concerning as you are constantly worried about the difficulties you know he will face, even dangers that may lurk ahead.
But it is something you come to embrace as you watch your son grow and mature, and as he overcomes those challenges and discovers the talents and passions that lead to his own individual happiness and success, including with a partner whom he dearly loves.
And, you are ever so thankful that you provided support, encouragement and love along the way, despite your own personal concerns.
States Take Action
Thus, it is heartening to see many states -- 14 and the District of Columbia -- ban the practice. Many other local communities are doing so as well.
In April, USA Today reported that nearly 50 bills had been introduced in 24 states targeting conversion therapy. Also in April, 11 medical associations and child welfare organization — including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Counseling Association —urged states to make such bills a priority.
“Being LGBTQ is not an illness,” said Xavier Persad, legislative counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ rights advocacy group. “It is false that being LGBTQ is wrong and a disorder.”
Who Do You Love?
What is wrong is not to accept your child for what he or she is; to attempt to impose your will and force a sexual identity that is impossible to accept and that could lead to a tragic result.
What it really comes down to is this: Do you love your child, or do you love yourself?
If it's the former, please don't risk your child's life. If it's the latter; if it's that you don't want to be embarrassed or you somehow feel threatened by your child's sexual identity, perhaps you're the one who needs therapy.