Editorial: Support gay conversion therapy ban


SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Iowa can once again be one of the first states in the nation to adopt legislation to promote gay rights.
An Iowa Senate panel has advanced a bill that would ban conversion therapy from being practiced on gay and lesbians under the age of 18.

Conversion therapy attempts to convert a patient’s sexuality from homosexual to heterosexual. The roots of conversion therapy contain the premise that one’s sexual orientation is a choice.

Supporters of this form of therapy believe that homosexuality can be “cured” through treatment including prayer, shock therapy, and prescribed drugs.

These practices have been outlawed by New Jersey, California, and Washington, D.C.

Because Iowa was one of the first states to legalize gay marriage, it should also follow suit with prohibiting conversion-therapy practices.

Technically speaking, homosexuality is not an illness or a mental disorder. It was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual in 1973 as being classified as a disorder.

Since homosexuality is not listed in the manual, it doesn’t have any guidelines to address it from a medical standpoint. There is no mainstream psychological treatment, thus no professional standards exist for therapists who attempt conversion therapy.

This is especially dangerous, given that the means to treat gay people have often included extreme and unconventional measures. Examples of treatments include estrogen treatments pills for men and electrical shocks being imposed on subjects to cause a seizure.

Passing a bill to outlaw conversion therapy isn’t an ideological issue, it’s a public-health issue.
Those who oppose homosexuality as it applies to their religion and beliefs are free to do so.

Churches are free to teach whatever aligns with their interpretation of biblical text as it pertains to homosexuality.

But the use of professionals to treat homosexuality with techniques not accepted by modern psychology and medical practices is dangerous to the patients who attempt to convert.

In addition to the harm that can happen medically, studies have also shown that LGBT youth suffer significant psychological harm from family rejection of their sexual orientation.

Researchers at San Francisco State University concluded from their studies on family rejection of homosexuality that youth with unsupportive parents are more likely to be depressed than those parents who accept their sexuality. LGBT persons with unsupportive parental units are eight times more likely to attempt suicide.

Based on these findings, parents are doing their children a great disservice in pressuring them into heterosexuality, both medically and psychologically.

An argument from members of the Family Research Council, which opposed legislation to ban conversion therapy in Washington, D.C., contend that their “freedom of speech” is being threatened. By not being able to hire a therapist to convert their children, they believe they are essentially being restricted the right to live lives aligned with their faith.

But freedom of speech doesn’t apply in this case. Freedom of speech is the right to speak, to convey messages orally or symbolically.  The removal of harmful therapy practices doesn’t intrude on that right. This red-herring argument distracts from the real issue: Conversion therapy is both harmful and medically irresponsible.

It’s the duty of lawmakers to pass legislation to honor and value their constituents. It is the belief of the Daily Iowan Editorial Board that state legislators should move forward in passing a conversion-therapy ban, for the sake of preventing from further damage to members of the LGBT community who are minors.

In today's issue:

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.