Should parents be banned from forcing or allowing their kids to undergo reparative therapy to “cure” homosexuality?
Many LGBT friendly groups have recently attempted to push through legislation that would do just that. I understand their thoughts behind it, but I think there is a fine line between looking after the best interests of a child from a societal viewpoint (parents can’t physically abuse their children), and looking after the best interests of a child from a parental viewpoint (children can’t stay out past 9pm).
People tend to have very different beliefs when it comes to raising kids. Some parents believe it is okay to spank their children, others don’t. Some parents believe in taking their children to church with them to pass on their religious beliefs, others don’t. Some parents believe in making their children work for their first car, others don’t. And the list could go on and on.
When it comes to sexuality, I understand full well why some parents would want their children to undergo reparative therapy, but I also understand why many people would believe that to be emotionally, as well as perhaps physically (in some cases) abusive to a child. Parents who are religious may simply want to help their child/children from growing up and engaging in sexual activities that they believe are sinful and/or harmful to them. Others may view sexuality so concretely that teaching anything other than full acceptance is harmful.
My personal belief is that reparative therapy should be allowed, but that children should never be forced to undergo it.
I think back to when I was younger, in middle school and high school days, and wishing so much that I wasn’t gay. I wanted a cure. I wanted something, anything, to help take away those feelings. Not knowing of anything like that, and wanting to adhere to my religious beliefs more than any physical and emotional wants, it was devastating to me thinking that there was no cure, or no way to fight. I thought I had no choice but to be gay.
At that time, I know that accepting my sexuality for what it is would have in no way made me feel better about myself. I’m okay now, but at the time, I needed some hope that I didn’t have to be gay, because in my eyes, that just wasn’t an option. And I do believe that that was a big reason for why I felt so suicidal there in my late teens and early twenties. I felt I had no choice but to be something that I so desperately did not want to be. I didn’t stop feeling suicidal and start realizing that my attractions to other men were okay, and to accept myself, until I sought out help from Exodus International, a place specializing in reparative therapy.
Did it help me to seek treatment? Yes, it did. Should I have had to seek treatment? No, probably not. Was it my choice to seek treatment? Yes. Could I have found help in some other way, perhaps even a better way? Probably. Should a person, at any age, be forced to undergo reparative therapy? No. And I say no to that last question because it can do no good whatsoever to a person who doesn’t want it. But if a person wants to try and believes it is what is best for them, then it can be a great source of hope and should be allowed.
It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with the merits of reparative therapy. That doesn’t really matter. You could still argue for a better way. What does matter is that if this type of therapy actually does in some way help some people, to make them feel better about who they are, then why would you purposefully want to deny them that? What good would that do a person who has a mindset so firmly opposed to living as a homosexual? None.
Based on all of this, I think it wise to allow reparative therapy to continue. I will never agree with any law that would totally ban it. However, I would stipulate that if it does continue, it should only ever be completely voluntary. A law promoting the use of reparative therapy only in this matter, I would agree with.