Ex-Ex-Lesbian Leader Slams Conversion Therapy on Eve of ‘Ex-Gay’ Freedom March in Washington, DC

Yvette Cantu Schneider Calls Freedom March ‘Opposite of Freedom’ and Claims Leaders Behave Inappropriately with Clients

PHILADELPHIA – Truth Wins Out released a powerful new online ad today featuring a former ex-lesbian leader who criticized conversion therapy on the eve of the May 25 “ex-gay” Freedom March in Washington, DC. Yvette Cantu Schneider, featured in the ad, had previously worked as a policy analyst for the Family Research Council, served as Director of Women’s Ministry for the now defunct Exodus International and spoke at Focus on the Family’s now closed “ex-gay” road show Love Won Out.

“I think the Freedom March is exactly the opposite of freedom,” Cantu Schneider said in Truth Wins Out’s ad. “Because you are actually becoming imprisoned by expectations that other people have for you. I’ve never seen anyone change from gay-to-straight, ever. I would just implore anyone who is thinking of joining an ‘ex-gay’ group not to do it. Instead of being free to be who you are, you’re being forced to be someone that you’re not.”

Cantu Schneider continued, “I was the director of women’s ministry for Exodus International. You know what I spent my time doing? Dealing with leaders in ‘ex-gay’ ministries who were having sex with the people who were coming to them for help. And that’s when I knew if the leaders, the people who have been chosen to be leaders, aren’t changing, no one is changing.”

The Freedom March will begin 1PM EST at Sylvan Theater near the Washington Monument. It is part of a slick, new rebranding effort dubbed Changed Movement with the phony hashtag #OnceGay. This cynical comeback is an attempt to revive the movement from the ashes, after the umbrella group Exodus International folded in 2013.

“Freedom March organizers hope the American people have amnesia and forgot about the embarrassing failures that define the ‘ex-gay’ industry,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. “Conversion therapy is a cruel hoax that shatters families, ruins lives, and should be banned at the federal level.”

In April, Truth Wins Out released an online ad featuring former Love in Action Director John Smid. He was the real life “ex-gay” counselor in the movie Boy Erased, played by Joel Edgerton as therapist Victor Sykes. Smid had counseled hundreds of men to rid them of their homosexuality. Now out of the closet and living with a his partner, Smid says in TWO’s ad, “If you are strongly attracted to someone of the same gender that will not change. I’ve never seen a real success story of anyone who has changed from homosexual to heterosexual.”

Every respected medical and mental health organization in the world considers attempts to change sexual orientation potentially dangerous. The American Psychiatric Association says that sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) can lead to “anxiety, depression, and self-destructive behavior”, including suicide. The American Psychological Association says, “There is simply no sufficiently scientifically sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.” Such “therapy” is considered so detrimental that sixteen states and the District of Colombia ban practicing it on minors.

According Dr. Caitlin Ryan’s study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics: “LGBT teens who were highly rejected by their families were 8 times more likely to have attempted suicide, 6 times as vulnerable to severe depression, and 3 times more likely to use drugs.” (Caitlin Ryan, San Francisco State University, June 2009).

A new study by Dr. Ryan, who also directs the Family Acceptance Project, reports:

“Parent-initiated attempts to change participant’s sexual orientation during adolescence were associated with more negative mental health problems for young adults.”(Journal of Homosexuality, Nov. 2018)

Founded in 2006, Truth Wins Out is a nonprofit think tank and advocacy organization that fights against right wing extremism, the “ex-gay” myth and anti-LGBT prejudice and discrimination.