By this time you may have heard of Sarah, The 17-yr-old Texas teen who was recently sent to a conversion camp to “pray the gay away.”
Her cousin, actor Joey Jordan, immediately took to the internet in an attempt to rescue her. He started a GoFundMe three days ago to cover the legal fees needed to rescue her from the conversion facility her parents have placed her in. Joey writes passionately about Sarah’s academic achievements and future goals, explaining that she is gay, and when she decided to take her girlfriend to prom her parents reacted negatively and pulled her from school. Shortly afterward she was sent to the facility (which has not been named).
Sarah’s extended family expressed concern about the fact that Sarah is isolated. She has not been given the means to contact anyone outside, and when she attempted to escape, she was quickly caught and returned to the facility. On his GoFundMe, her cousin wrote:
“…she was punished for her escape attempt. When close friends of Sarah drove up to the facility in an attempt to free her, local law enforcement threatened to arrest them.”
In Texas, even though the legal age of adulthood is 17, parents have the right to sign their children away to boarding facilities until they are 18. Sarah’s aunt has already hired Christine Andresen, a local family attorney who specialized in LGBTQ rights.
Conversion therapy is supported in many religious communities as a solution to the “problem” of homosexuality. Camps range from full-time boarding facilities like the one at which Sarah is being held, to weekly meetings held in churches and other available facilities. A few examples can be found of camps for adults who willingly want to go through this ordeal, but unfortunately many of these places are geared toward children. The methods used at these facilities have been known to cause long-term mental harm, and in some cases are responsible for physical abuse.
There are different methods that are used, many of which have been debunked or decried as pseudoscience. In many cases treatments are a cocktail of several different methods.
- Behavioral modification (Aversion therapy): Do you know that scene in A Clockwork Orange? The one where, while inducing nausea and pain, Alex is forced to watch scenes of violence? That is a bit of an exaggerated example but the physiological damage that can be done is clear.
- Ministry: Sitting an often exhausted patient down and feeding them the fear of God disguised as love until they break.
- Psychoanalysis: Using long-term therapy to uncover childhood memories that could be blamed for making the patient think they are homosexual.
- Reparative Therapy: A specific program created by Joseph Nicolosi, who has written several books on the subject of suppressing and denying homosexual tendencies.
Many of these techniques have been debunked and are known to cause more harm to the patient in the long run. So you might be hard pressed to find a facility openly touting the techniques they use. A quick Google search reveals the stories of hundreds of victims. After years of receiving treatment behind closed doors, people are finally coming out and giving their account of the mental and physical abuse they suffered while being detained at one of these facilities.
Even with pushback from many different fronts—LGBTQ rights organizations, the medical and science communities, and even the government—as of today only 5 states + D.C. have laws banning conversion therapy. Several national health organizations have called conversion therapy out saying that it goes directly against the Hippocratic oath to practice it. More than enough studies have come out to prove that conversion therapy not only does not work, but it causes direct harm to its victims. After the suicide of Leelah Alcorn last year the White House took action and started a petition to ban conversion therapy nationwide.
Often, this practice is used on minors, who lack the legal authority to make their own medical and mental health decisions. We share your concern about its potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer youth.
When assessing the validity of conversion therapy, or other practices that seek to change an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation, it is as imperative to seek guidance from certified medical experts. The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm.
As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.
The case to save Sarah is an important step toward gaining traction and eliminating this horrific practice in our country. If her extended family is successful in extracting her from this facility and can get the law on their side, that ruling can then be used in the future to rescue other LGTBQ youth whose rights are being signed away to these religious abusers.
Please spread Sarah’s story, use the hashtag #saveSarah and, if you can, donate to her GoFundMe campaign. As of right now they are close to the halfway mark. Let’s bring Sarah back to the family that supports her.
“Tonight, somewhere in America, a young person, let’s say a young man, will struggle to fall to sleep, wrestling alone with a secret he’s held as long as he can remember. Soon, perhaps, he will decide it’s time to let that secret out. What happens next depends on him, his family, as well as his friends and his teachers and his community. But it also depends on us — on the kind of society we engender, the kind of future we build.”
— President Barack Obama (April 2015)
[Image Source: GoFundMe]