LGBT Center of Raleigh

Mailing Address: 19 West Hargett Street Suite 507 - Raleigh NC 27601 - 919-832-4484

Conversion Therapy and Mental Illness

Conversion Therapyby Tonya J. Williams & Shoshanna Carroll
July 17, 2020

“Conversion therapy” also called “reparative therapy” or “sexual orientation change effort” has been used on many queer youth, with estimates showing upwards of 20,000 minors may be subjected to the practice by non-affirming family. According to OutLife based in the United Kingdom, conversion therapy can run the gamut:

Conversion therapy, or so-called “gay-cure therapy” is any form of talk therapy or similar activity that seeks to remove a person’s feelings of same-sex attraction or change their gender identity. Attempts may also be made to force an attraction to the opposite sex, or identification with recorded birth sex.[1]

The word “therapy” can be misleading, as there is no scientific basis for conversion therapy. Practices often vary wildly and are not regulated. In other words: it’s not medically certified, and you don’t know what you’re getting.[2]

This type of therapy results in those who are submitted to it becoming depressed, experiencing more anxiety, becoming suicidal, and being more likely to use drugs. In short, the therapy is not only scientifically discredited, it causes more mental health issues and pain for queer youth and adults. It is an abusive practice and should be banned in all its forms.

The practice has been occurring for many years and has its roots in bigotry and prejudice. Family and societal beliefs may cause parents to enlist the services of “conversion therapists” in an attempt to “fix” their child’s gender or orientation. Adults facing the same pressures may also choose to undergo this “therapy.” In either case, “conversion therapy” does not change who we intrinsically are, rather, it damages one’s mental health and causes a lifetime of trauma to both youth and adults.

The American Psychological Association and other major mental health organizations have issued statements condemning conversion therapy and the various practices associated with it. According to the Human Rights Campaign,

Such practices have been rejected by every mainstream medical and mental health organization for decades, but due to continuing discrimination and societal bias against LGBTQ people, some practitioners continue to conduct conversion therapy[3]

That is why it is so important to our Center that we continue to build and enhance our youth and family programming, and why we are dedicated to running these programs virtually right now. Families and youth need resources, and these needed resources provide a direct line of safety for youth away from these harmful practices.

We want to encourage you to continue to speak out against conversion therapy. Last August Governor Roy Cooper took the first step in banning public funding for conversion therapy, but we must do more.[4] The lives of our loved ones stand in the balance. It is vital that we make our state safer for all queer people, that means making sure this reprehensible practice is banned so that youth and adults are not inflicted with more mental trauma.

[1] Conversion Therapy: The Facts.

[2] Ibid.

[3] The Lies and Dangers of “Conversion Therapy.”

[4] North Carolina bans public funding of 'conversion therapy' for youth. Jamie Ehrlich. August 2, 2019.

Upcoming Events