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Conversion Therapy: Why It Should Be Illegal


Leelah Alcorn

Mental illness is a part of life many young people are forced to struggle and cope with. Twenty percent of youth ages 13-18 live with a mental condition today; that’s one out of every five teens. Most teens strive to get better, though, and two-thirds of them seek counseling help. However, it is suffice to say that not all therapy is good therapy.

The practice known as “conversion therapy” is a dangerous type of counseling which claims to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity, making them cisgender or straight. The therapy has been widely discredited and rejected by every large medical and mental health corporation, as they claim it can make minors more susceptible to things such as drug use, depression, and even suicide. United States Surgeon General, David Satcher, comprised a report in 2001 in which he prompted that “there is no valid scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.” However, this has not stopped some practitioners.

Many Christian groups continue to support the practice today, hiding behind the guise of religious justification. The practice, having been around for centuries, was even disfavored by Sigmund Freud, one of the main voices of modern psychology. He detested the idea of conversion of sexuality, saying that even if bringing about heterosexual ideas was possible, you could never eliminate the homosexual feelings.

After the suicide of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn in 2015, President Obama called for an end to conversion therapies in the USA. Since then, the practice has been banned in four states, along with Washington, D.C. In states such as Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, and Virginia, though, the bills to ban conversion therapy were not signed and ultimately failed.

So, what does this mean for conversion therapy? Well, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and The Southern Poverty Law Center have all joined together to file a fraud complaint against this practice, claiming that not only is it extremely dangerous to youth, but sets up false pretenses and advertising. The petition states as follows: “We request that the Commission take enforcement action to stop PCC’s [People Can Change] deceptive advertising, marketing, and other business practices in all forms…” The organizations hope that this petition can help bring about change, and if all goes well, begin the ban of conversion therapy altogether.

In other words, please just let us be gay, people.

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Written By

Brandi Hewitt is a high school senior who aspires to use journalism to reach a broad audience and educate people on political and sociocultural issues. She is passionate about women's rights and is an advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community. In her spare time she enjoys reading classic books, watching The X-Files, and playing the guitar.


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