There is a lot of debate over the power of prayer, generally along lines of how religious or spiritual one might be.
While it might not be immediately clear how much praying can help someone, what many of us already know is that it certainly can’t — and doesn’t — hurt.
Except in one context. And there, it hurts a lot. You know, those efforts to “pray the gay away.” Such efforts against the LGBTQ community can happen in a variety of venues, from prayer groups to houses of worship.
But where we hear about it most are through “gay conversion therapies,” many times in the office of a spiritual leader or even a mental health professional.
The therapy targets someone who has identified or is suspected to be part of the LGBTQ community, in an effort to “return” them to heterosexuality, or to identify with the gender assigned to them at birth. There are no peer-reviewed techniques known to successfully do this. And even if there were, the mental health community abandoned their barbaric claim that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer was an illness decades ago.
While it seems as each generation takes root, attitudes toward the LGBTQ community become more positive. But it hasn’t stopped the caveman-mentality in a vocal minority to push to destroy that community out of fear over how diversity will allow us to evolve.
The city council is walking back a citywide ban on gay conversion therapy. Not because they think the law is wrong, but because a conservative Christian group known as the Alliance Defending Freedom has challenged such a ban in courts claiming counselors and religious leaders have a First Amendment right to not only tell someone it’s wrong to be LGBTQ, but they must change.
Such an application of the First Amendment might sound silly, but in a Trump-managed court system, anything is possible, and the city isn’t risking it.
Thankfully, the state has a ban in place as well, so we don’t have to worry about gay conversion clinics popping up around the city. But we still have to be mindful of the fact such approaches still exist.
And it’s not adults that are typically targeted in such actions — it’s children. Teenagers. Young people, at their most vulnerable, trying to discover their place in the world, being told that who they are is not what they should be.
No one chooses to be gay or transgender or bisexual. It’s simply who they are. Any “success” that conversion therapy might have is either putting someone in denial of who they are, or worse, driving them to suicide.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in people between 10 and 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. LGB youth seriously contemplate suicide three times the rate of their heterosexual counterparts, according to The Trevor Project.
Forcing a teenager into a gender role or into a specific sexuality is child abuse. And child abuse is not protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Any judge who says otherwise should have never been on the bench.