Heteronormative: Someone who is heterosexual and accepted by society because of it.
Gender atypical: Someone who no longer identifies with their birth gender.
Evangelical: People who follow the Bible word for word, and believe anyone who doesn't is going to go to hell.
Castration: The removal of the testicles from a man or a male animal.
Electroconvulsive: The treatment of mental illnesses by electrically shocking the brain.
Objectionable: unpleasant or offensive.
What is conversion therapy?
Conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy, is based off the idea that someone’s sexual orientation can be changed back to a heteronormative standard. “The controversial treatment often used on minors attempts to ‘repair’ gay, lesbian and transgender minors,” says Bobby Allyn, a writer for Newsworks. As of now, there is no evidence that conversion therapy is a successful way to change someone’s sexual orientation. Minors are notably impacted by conversion therapy, especially those who have parents who do not support or believe in homosexuality and force them into the therapy. Gregory K. Fritz, a writer for Editor’s Commentary, states, “Children who range anywhere from exhibiting gender-atypical behavior to self-identifying openly as gay are put in treatment to develop a heterosexual orientation. Such “treatment” is not new, and its history includes institutionalization, castration, and electroconvulsive therapy.” Conversion therapy has been found to cause anxiety and guilt, as well as family problems and hostility.
What is being done to outlaw the practice?
Locations where conversion therapy has been banned (purple).
A number of bills have been passed in order to outlaw the practice in several states. Allyn also states that “California, New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington D.C., have already outlawed conversion therapy for minors. Seattle, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and other cities have also passed similar legislation.” Just recently, a new bill was proposed in order to outlaw conversion therapy in Erie County, Pennsylvania. According to Sandra Tan, writer for the Buffalo News, “Erie County Legislator Patrick B. Burke has been trying for two years to get legislation passed outlawing gay conversion therapy. And he's finally found someone who might help him get it done: Vice President-elect Mike Pence.” Although Vice President Mike Pence could be seen as the least likely person to help in the fight to outlaw conversion therapy, Burke believes his new bill will gain national attention so more people become aware of the controversial treatment.
Above: Places where conversion therapy is banned (purple).
What is the PENCE bill?
Above Link: A news report about Burke's new PENCE Bill from TWC News.
One of the newest bills proposed is PENCE; The Prevention of Emotional Neglect and Childhood Endangerment. “Patrick Burke… introduced a bill this week that would ban LGBTQ conversion therapy practices for minors in the county [Erie County], Time Warner Cable News reports,” says Daniel Marans, a writer for the Huffington Post. Burke was afraid the name of the bill would be thought to be a gimmick, but he states that much needed reforms are needed to ban the practice, and he is willing to go to such lengths to get the bill passed. Burke also says he chose the name PENCE because of Mike Pence’s observed support of funding of conversion therapy. His 2000 Congressional campaign website says that “resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior,” which many people inferred as his support of the funding of the practice. “For the first time in our presidential history, a major party candidate and a major party support child abuse, even child torture, as part of their platform. That’s not hyperbole, that’s exactly what conversion therapy is,” says Gavin Newsom, a writer for The Daily Beast. Burke hopes the bill with promote the outlawing on conversion therapy in other cities and states.
How has the election of VP Mike Pence and President Donald Trump affected LGBT+ people?
After the election of President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, many communities and minorities feared for the safety of their rights. Since both Donald Trump and Mike Pence are pro-life, many women were concerned that abortion and Planned Parenthood would be defunded or banned altogether. Within the LGBT community, “The president remains opposed to same-sex marriage and has said he would "strongly consider" appointing a Supreme Court justice who would overturn the high court's 2015 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide,” says Drew Angerer, writer for Mother Jones. The government seems so keen on reverting to old ways, that ideas like conversion therapy, which is thought to be a dead practice, could be in America's future. Additionally, Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) when he was governor of Indiana. “The Indiana law was billed by supporters as a safeguard against businesses being forced to provide services they find objectionable on religious grounds,” says Matt McKinney, a writer for the RTV6 of Indiana. However, many people saw the bill as a personal attack on the LGBT community. Amanda Terkel, a writer for The Huffington Post, says, “Opponents of the bill argued that it would open the door to widespread discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.” The bill is still controversial today because it gives businesses legal protection to refuse to serve people of the LGBT community if it goes against their religion.
What is going to happen in the future to LGBT+ rights?
The LGBT community continues to fight for equal rights, even today. However, many fear that the recent election could destroy any hopes of gaining equal rights. Dr. Patrick Egan, an associate professor of politics and public policy at New York University, states, “Efforts to pass the equality act, which would establish employment discrimination rights for LGBT folks, are dead." Moreover, some people believe conversion therapy could be part of “Trump’s America.” “Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who was instrumental in rallying the Religious Right behind Trump when he led a meeting between the candidate and hundreds of evangelical and Catholic leaders in June, has defended conversion therapy, claiming last year that the government is preventing chaplains from recommending ‘assistance’ for those in the ‘homosexual lifestyle,’” says Robert Mainville, a writer for Right Wing Watch. Because of the ongoing debate on whether or not President Trump cde3and Vice President Pence will protect the rights of LGBT people, the future, especially of where conversion therapy is going, is unclear. But because of the Republican Party’s standings in government, panic has begun to set in on whether equal rights for the LGBT community will ever be reached.