Sunday, June 19, 2005

Love Inaction

Love Inaction is what happens when folks blindly follow a "tough love" stance to reject the person another being is because they are incapable of love without judgement or conditions. According to posts a Majikthise and Republic of T, it appears as though Zach, the 16 year-old in the midst of "reparative" therapy is in for an extended tour with the inaccurately named Refuge (an additional 6 weeks, according to reports). As a minor Zach is reliant on his parents economically and any assent provided by him was likely to have been coerced with threats of loss of benefit (i.e., we'll toss you out on your ass and you'll have to fend for yourself with no money to pay for housing, clothes food and, as a 16 year old, you'll have a really hard time finding a job to pay for those most basic things). As someone who has become a bit of a cause celebre, Zach is at even more risk for increased pressure to succumb to the will of those conducting his "reparation" therapy (so he can be trotted out as an example of "success") or retribution if the therapy does not ellicit the demanded response. The additional 6 weeks of treatment leads me to believe the LIA folks have jacked it up quite a bit to make an example of the boy. As he is still beholden to his parents upon his release, any failure of the "therapy" will be unacceptable as they seem to believe homosexuality is something Zach sought out and refuses to give up despite a "proper re-education" in what is acceptable and what is abominable in the eyes of his church. If Zach is "repaired" the final outcome will be for him to reject himself and his own nature as evil, disgusting and sinful, and to spend his life sublimating the person he actually is and pretending to be something/someone other than that. He is, in short, being taught self-loathing and instructed to live in constant fear to prevent any part of his own nature from showing its true face.

The policy statement on adoloscence & homosexuality of the American Pediatrics Association states unequivocally
Confusion about sexual orientation is not unusual during adolescence. Counseling may be helpful for young people who are uncertain about their sexual orientation or for those who are uncertain about how to express their sexuality and might profit from an attempt at clarification through a counseling or psychotherapeutic initiative. Therapy directed specifically at changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.
The American Psychiatric Association goes further into the potential for harm of "reparative therapy"
The potential risks of "reparative therapy" are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient. Many patients who have undergone "reparative therapy" relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction. The possibility that the person might achieve happiness and satisfying interpersonal relationships as a gay man or lesbian is not presented, nor are alternative approaches to dealing with the effects of societal stigmatization discussed.
Adolescents are already in the midst of the emotional turmoil that is growing up and in a critical path to their emotional development. The need to fit in and be accepted (heck, to just not be the brunt of nasty comments/actions by their peers) is at the highest during this stage of human development. Teens who have difficulty coping with rejection, being ostracized, instability, the pressure to be something/someone they are not and the hopelessness that comes with these tend to develop depression that may lead to suicidal ideation and attempts at suicide. The increased risk of loneliness, feelings of rejection and happiness is exacerbated when a person (especially a teenager) does not have (or does not think s/he has) an appropriate support network. In the case of gay teens like Zach the family, which should be the bastion of solace and refuge, is part and parcel to the rejection and stigmatization. Organizations like LIA and those groups that support these organizations will not present any scenario in which homosexuals are anything but "lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction" because a core purpose to their being is to ensure this is the case. Additionally, organizations that conduct "reparative therapy" have a large stake in ensuring the dissemination of this propaganda assists in fulfilling its prophecy as a means to drum up business and fulfill their financial bottom line.

You may find homosexuality to be something that runs counter to your religious beliefs, but I can't see how any person of conscience can condone the mental and emotional manipulation of anyone (let alone a child) to attempt to control that person's minds, beliefs and/or feelings. It may be gay kids now, but who knows what the next target group will be that's considered in need of repair by the fundagelical movement or our government. Do something now, so you don't have to pray someone will step in to help you if/when the time comes.

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