Thursday, June 23, 2005

Tennessee Investigates Zach's Camp

For the past couple of weeks, all of the blog-world has held its collective breath and waited to see what was going to happen to this 16-year-old kid named Zach. Seems he made the mistake of telling his parents he was gay. They didn't say anything for a while, and then they signed him up for a "conversion camp" in Tennessee called Refuge. At one point, after they'd told him they didn't know what the rules were at the camp, he found the whole list of them on his parents' computer and posted them on his blog. It's heart-stopping. He says he won't commit suicide, but he's thinking about it. He kicks himself for telling his parents.

I'm generally pretty tough-skinned, or worse, but this was one thing that I couldn't stand to look at, it was just too sad. A week or two ago, I looked, I saw the rules, I saw this poor kid trying to understand why his own parents hate him, regretting that he ever told them the truth, and it was just too painful to go back to. I figured I'd see something about it when he got out, and then go back and find out what had happened, just put it out of my mind for a little while.

Turned out, thousands of people were following his story. Literally thousands commented on his blog, though he was locked up in camp and didn't know it. Hundreds of people stood outside the camp with signs.

And now the state of Tennessee says they're going to investigate.
The state of Tennessee has begun an investigation in response to allegations of child abuse at Love in Action, a Memphis facility that advertises homosexual conversion therapy for adolescents, according to the state department of health.

K. Daniele Edwards, a spokesperson for Child Services at the Tennessee Department of Health, confirmed an investigation is underway but declined to comment on the details. She noted that she presumes the Love in Action program would require licensing by the state.

Love in Action is not licensed by the Tennessee Departments of Health, Mental Health, Human Services, Child Services or Education, according to Rachel Lassiter of Gov. Phil Bredesen's communications office.

Refuge, Love in Action's program for adolescents, became the focus of public concern earlier this month after a Bartlett, Tenn., teen who uses the blogger name Zach, posted online entries that say his parents had responded to his coming out as gay by sending him to a religious institution to be converted to heterosexuality. Tenn. investigates ex-gay camp

I couldn't do it, but you ought to go look at Zach's blog. There's his picture, just a regular kid. There's his silly teenage quotes. His favorite music. This could be my kid. Except for one thing: I don't hate my kids. I could never do this to them.

Check this out:
Officials from Love in Action had appealed for "tolerance" of their program at a June 16 news conference.

"It is our spiritual conviction that sexual behavior outside of heterosexual marriage is considered wrong in the sight of God," said John Smid, the program's director, who describes himself as "ex-gay," according to a partial transcript of the news conference.

Look at these guys, they keep these poor kids locked away from the world, trying to change their souls into something alien, torturing them into accepting that there's something evil about themselves, something wrong -- and these guys have the ... nerve ... to try to make it sound like normal, sensible people are being intolerant of them! I try to keep my language G-rated here on this blog, and I will do that, but this tests my resolve. These people are evil.

This ex-gay business shows you the worst of the human species. These are people consumed with hatred, people with no sense of compassion, taking it out on innocent young victims.

Remember that there are people who want this stuff promoted in your Montgomery County schools. That lawsuit was filed jointly by CRC and PFOX. PFOX is an organization of "ex-gays," they support this guy that's holding Zach captive. They live to crush the spirit, and they want to teach your kids to feel the same way.

Maybe, like most of us straight people, you're not comfortable with homosexuality, maybe you don't understand it, but think for a minute about the very most fundamental human need -- the need for love -- and try to explain to yourself: who would think that kids like Zach don't need it like the rest of us? Let's not incorporate this kind of poisonous attitude into our county's school system, okay?


Blogger andrear said...

This request for tolerance for evil is something I do not understand-I have seen it here by commenters and on other blogs and listserves as if love and kindness and respect is the equivalent of the hatred and bigotry shown by these people- so we are to look at both ways as equal. Somehow if you believe in human rights - you are supposed to accept that people who are against rights for others are okay or even good. I am not sure if the people who say this say it because they are the bigots(most likely) or because they are totally illogical in their thinking.

The people who run this "camp" (yes, in the sense of prison "camp") should be arrested and tried for abuse.

June 24, 2005 7:35 AM  
Anonymous Tish said...

For me the creepiest of the rules have to do with the fact that the Refuge sends kids home to their parents on a daily basis and makes the parents partipate in keeping their children in solitary confinement. For some reason, there are parents who actually accept the roles of jailors and torturers of their own children.

When I was a teenager back in the dark ages of the '70s, one of my friends was sent by his mother into "corrective therapy." It rapidly damaged his mental and physical health. Within 6 months he went from being a gay boy in the closet to being a gay boy in a PG County hospital with a bleeding ulcer. His mother, corrected, pulled him out of the "therapy" he was in and started working to regain his trust. Eventually she succeeded.

If you have to brain-wash your children in order to love them, you need the repair, not your kids.

June 24, 2005 8:58 AM  
Anonymous Gleeful said...

I'm sorry. Do you have a shred of evidence showing that CRC supports this kind of activity?

Or would this be another Jim Kennedy unsubstantiated slur?

June 28, 2005 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Vice President and attorney for the CRC said he is an attorney for PFOX, one of the many purveyors of "reparative therapy" at the BOE meeting on June 27, 2005. CRC and PFOX both sued MCPS because the "ex-gay viewpoint" was not included in the health education curriculum. CRC sure does support "reparative therapy" just like PFOX.

Aunt Bea

June 28, 2005 8:15 PM  
Anonymous Tish said...

In the profile of Michelle Turner published in the Washington Post on May 19, Turner is quoted as saying that students should be taught that they can get out of the "gay lifestyle."

In the Gazette, on May 4th, Jackie Rice was quoted, saying that the Boe and CRC refused to include information about ex-gays, or that people can overcome same-sex atttraction.

I really don't want to keep going through old news articles doing your homework for you. The CRC leadership has been very clear and very public about wanting reparative therapy in the curriculum and shown in a positive light.

June 28, 2005 8:50 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

It seems to me that there are two issues, in this most distressing story:

1) Should parents have the right to compel their 16 year old to have such therapy and

2) Does the therapy ACTUALLY WORK?

These two are somewhat interconnected of course, but I will concentrate my comment on the second.

If parents who have a 16 year old with, for example, Type 1 (Insulin dependent)Diabetes are told of a therapy to cure it, and they want to compel their teenager to have the treatment, there are certainly legal issues, and no doubt laws vary from country to country.

But first and foremost, parents and physicians would surely want to know what CLINICAL EVIDENCE had been published in reputable peer-reviewed journals, establishing safety and efficacy of the treatment. In other words, have those selling the treatment demonstrated to the satisfaction of other qualified health profesionals, that it WORKS and that it is SAFE. If there was no such evidence base, would they buy the treatment?

It is my belief that "Love In Action" and other such "therapy" vendors fail SIGNALLY and DISMALLY on these counts.

There is simply NO clinical evidence base of efficacy.

Simply saying that sex outside of heterosexual marriage, is incompatible with Christianity (which in fact I believe) is not at all a sufficient base to suggest that desire for such can be changed, rather than just resisted.

And, while pointing out the dangers of promiscuity may be a good thing to do, there is no evidence that doing so removes sexual attraction, or can change it from homosexual to heterosexual.

If the 'therapy' sold by people like "Love In Action" actually works to change sexual orientation, it is up to those making and selling the 'therapy' to prove it and to have the proofs acepted for publication in reputable peer-reviewed medical journals. Personally I believe that it doesn't, and they won't.

The Spitzer "study", if it shows anything, tends to show that this kind of 'therapy' doesn't work.

Before there could be any general acceptance of such 'therapy', there would need to be a HUGE evidence base established, and at the moment there appears to be simply nothing.

One writes this in a somewhat dispassionate tone, but oh, poor Zach, and his poor parents.

July 20, 2005 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Sorry folks, I typed "Love In Action" when I meant "Love Won Out"

July 21, 2005 11:39 AM  

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