In today’s depressing news, a couple is suing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie over the state’s recent ban on gay conversion therapy. Christie signed the bill into law this August, which prevents therapists from attempting to “convert” gay teenagers into being straight. Because it’s complete and utter quack psychology bullshit.
But! These horrible parents, who have remained unnamed, claims their 15-year-old son doesn’t want to be gay and “needs” the conversion therapy. Their son has contemplated suicide and has, in their words, “unwanted gender identity disorder and unwanted same-sex attractions.” I don’t think it’s particularly presumptuous to assume that his parents’ — and perhaps, community’s — disapproval is a major factor in his unhappiness. I guess they’re not concerned with that, though. They feel that their rights to free speech and freedom of religion are being violated. (The American Association for Christian Counselors has filed a separate lawsuit over the bill.)
The American Psychological Association (APA) has classified gay conversion therapy as not only ineffective, but harmful to its participants. (I know, shocking.) Dr. Jack Drescher, a member of the APA’s DSM-5 Workgroup on Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders, asserted to the Human Rights Campaign that the belief that “being gay is a choice has no basis in current scientific thinking.” Dr. Drescher continued, “Not only is homosexuality ‘not a choice,’ as most efforts to try and change a person’s sexual orientation fail, but some attempts to change can cause harm and damage to an individual’s well-being.”
Governor Christie did worry that the ban would result in the government limiting parents’ choices about the care of their own children. However, he also mentioned the APA’s insistence that homosexuality is not a choice when he signed it into law. Unfortunately, the couple suing could easily take their son to another state where conversion therapy isn’t banned, or worse, they could send him to an unlicensed “converter,” such as a clergy member or shaman. All of this is extremely concerning.