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District Of Columbia Council Approves Bill Protecting LGBT Youth From Conversion Therapy

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The District of Columbia Council unanimously approved a bill today that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth from the unhealthy and discredited practice of conversion therapy reports the National Center For Lesbian RightsUpon the signing of the bill, Washington, D.C., will become the third jurisdiction-after California and New Jersey-to ban the deranged practice of conversion therapy that often leads to depression and suicide in its "patients." Samantha Ames, the NCLR staff attorney and coordinator of the #BornPerfect campaign at NCLR, commended the council's decision.

Said Ames:

"Today, the D.C. Council sent a powerful message to LGBT youth and their families that they are accepted, supported, and loved.

"The Council has used its authority to protect our most vulnerable youth from dangerous and discredited pseudoscience that tells them who they are is wrong, and reaffirmed the consensus of every major medical and mental health organization that all children are born perfect, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity."

NCLR and the Human Rights Campaign collaborated on organizing a coalition that backed the bill, which was authored by Democratic Councilmember Mary M. Cheh. Several groups supported the Youth Mental Health Protection Act, including national LGBT and mental health organizations, youth advocates, religious faith leaders, civil rights organizations and reproductive justice groups. 

Support for the repeal of the practice is mounting as the United Nations Committee Against Torture called the dangerous therapy "troubling," when they convened last month, and questioned the U.S. Department of State representatives asking why the unviable treatment is still in practice. Even former practitioners of the therapy are condemning its use, including Exodus International co-founder Michael Bussee, who called the practice "Poison to the soul," along with eight other prominent ex-gay leaders. 

Nine Former Ex-Gay Leaders Collectively Condemn Conversion Therapy

BusseIt's amazing that anyone puts any credit behind conversion therapy. Success stories are virtually non-existent; the few that do exist typically are cases of repression, not conversion; credible psychological institutions condemn the practice as harmful; and multiple states are banning the practice for minors. Now another block has been pulled out of the teetering Jenga tower as nine former ex-gay leaders have come out explicitly condemning the practice.

Writing in an open letter posted online, Exodus International co-founder Michael Bussee (pictured), along with eight other prominent ex-gay leaders wrote the following (bolding mine):

We grew up with the repetitive message that LGBT people were not enough — not straight enough, not Christian enough, not manly or womanly enough, not faithful enough, not praying enough. Never, ever enough. “Toxic” probably sums it up best. That message is poison to the soul. Especially a child’s soul. It can take a lifetime to get rid of that old programming and replace it with healthy, non-toxic views of yourself. Recovery from conversion therapy is difficult at best. Some remain forever scarred, emotionally and spiritually.Conversion therapy reinforces internalized homophobia, anxiety, guilt and depression. It leads to self-loathing and emotional and psychological harm when change doesn’t happen. Regrettably, too many will choose suicide as a result of their sense of failure. In light of this, we now stand united in our conviction that conversion therapy is not “therapy,” but is instead both ineffective and harmful. We align ourselves with every major mainstream professional medical and mental health organization in denouncing attempts to change sexual orientation or gender identity. We admonish parents to love and accept your LGBT children as they are. We beseech the church to accept, embrace, and affirm LGBT persons with full equality and inclusion.

The other men and women who signed the letter are: Brad Allen, Exodus International Headquarters; Darlene Bogle, Paraklete Ministries; Catherine Chapman, Portland Fellowship; Jeremy Marks, Exodus Europe; Bill Prickett, Coming Back; Tim Rymel, Love in Action; Yvette Cantu Schneider, Exodus International; John J. Smid, Exodus International Board of Directors.

Former "Ex-Gays" Apologize for Causing Harm to Gay Community

Three former leaders of "ex-gay" organization Exodus International held a news conference at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center on Wednesday on the eve of their former organization's annual conference, being held in nearby Irvine, California.

BusseeA joint statement was read by former Exodus co-founder Michael Bussee:

"Some who heard our message were compelled to try to change an integral part of themselves, bringing harm to themselves and their families. Although we acted in good faith, we have since witnessed the isolation, shame, fear and loss of faith that this message creates."

According to the Associated Press, "Bussee left Exodus in 1979 after he fell in love with a man who was a fellow ex-gay counselor with the group. He speaks out frequently against ex-gay therapies. The others speaking at the news conference included Jeremy Marks, former president of Exodus International Europe, and Darlene Bogle, the founder and former director of Paraklete Ministries, an Exodus referral agency based in Hayward, California. Chambers, who is married and has children, said he and other current Exodus officials are careful to warn those who seek help that such a path is not easy. Sexual orientation, he said, 'isn't a light switch that you can switch on and off.'"

ChambersCurrent Exodus president Alan Chambers responded to their claims: "Exodus is here for people who want an alternative to homosexuality. There are thousands of people like me who have overcome this. I think there's room for more than one opinion on this subject, and giving people options isn't dangerous."

The L.A. Times reports: "Among those at the news conference was the Rev. Mel White, founder and president of a faith-based gay rights group called Soulforce. White, who was the ghostwriter for the Rev. Jerry Falwell's autobiography and later came out as gay, praised the former Exodus leaders. 'It's a major moment, a paradigm shift,' White said. 'They're saying this doesn't work, and that's incredibly important.'"

The Exodus conference is expected to attract 1,000 people.

Below, a few recent videos of Michael Bussee speaking out about being an ex-"ex-gay". More here.


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