Conversion Therapy Impacts on LGB Youth
A majority of the evidence on the impacts of conversion therapy on LGB youth are anecdotal recounts from individuals who have gone through the therapy; furthermore, the lack of studies muddies the water and makes it difficult to determine the impacts of conversion therapy. However, the correlation between the social/parental acceptance of LGB youth and mental health has been studied. When youth are not treated with acceptance, love, respect, and understanding, it negatively impacts their mental health. Forcing youth to undergo conversion therapy rejects and invalidates their sense-of-self and self-worth. Policies need to be put in place to protect youth against being subject to this outdated damaging practice.
According to the Human Rights Campaign (2018), compared to LGBTQ youth who were accepted by parents and caregivers, highly rejected youth were “more than 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide”, “nearly 6 times as likely to report high levels of depression”, and “more than 3 times as likely to use illegal drugs”. These findings are supported by anecdotal recounts from individuals who have gone through conversion therapy. Pamela M. Detrie and Suzanne H. Lease (2007) report that “a major factor contributing to LGB youths’ at-risk status is their membership in a stigmatized minority group and the alienation and lack of support that may result from that membership. Experiences of stigmatization can contribute to emotional isolation, alienation, inauthenticity, and low self-esteem” (p. 175). When we look at the significant negative impact rejection and isolation how on the mental health of youth, it is clear policies need to be put in place to protect LGB youth. Families who instead partake in therapy with licensed practitioners and work towards common goals, understanding, and acceptance, will not only have children with better mental health, but also healthier family units.
Detrie, P. M., Lease, S. H., (2007) The relation of social support, connectedness, and collective self-esteem to the psychological well-being of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth. Journal of Homosexuality, 54, 173-199. doi:10.1080/00918360802103449
Human Rights Campaign. (2018) The lies and dangers of efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity. Retrieved from https://www.hrc.org/resources/the-lies-and-dangers-of-reparative-therapy