Video: Former Ex-Gay Leaders Support Federal Bill Prohibiting Conversion Therapy for LGBTQ Youth and Apologize to Community

TWO’s Video is in support of Rep. Ted Lieu’s ‘Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2019,’ which was introduced today

WASHINGTON – Rep. Ted W. Lieu (D-CA) introduced the “Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2019” today which would prohibit the destructive practice of “ex-gay” conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth. In support of the bill, Truth Wins Out released a powerful new video featuring five former high-profile “ex-gay” activists who apologize to the LGBTQ community and call on Congress to pass Rep. Lieu’s bill.

“Former ex-gay leaders are some of the strongest voices to emerge in support of federal legislation banning the abusive practice of conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. “These individuals know firsthand that conversion therapy and other ‘ex-gay’ programs are ineffective and dangerous. They are speaking out now so others won’t follow in their footsteps. They are warning people to stay away from programs that will waste their time and money, as well as adversely impact their mental health. We also thank Rep. Lieu for his outstanding leadership and commitment to the LGBTQ community. He is a true hero and champion of LGBTQ youth.”

The former ex-gay leaders featured in TWO’s video:

Michael Bussee: The co-founder of Exodus International, which was the largest “ex-gay” ministry organization in the world until it shut down in 2013. He now leads the Former Ex-Gay Leaders Alliance (FELA), which helps former ex-gay leaders transition out of the harmful, cult-like movement.

Alan Chambers: Alan Chambers was the former President of Exodus International who decided to shut down the organization when he realized that people were not successfully changing from gay-to-heterosexual.

Yvette Cantu Schneider: Yvette 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.

John Smid: He was the former leader of Love in Action, the “ex-gay” program featured in the movie Boy Erased.

Randy Thomas: He was the former Vice President of Exodus International, who helped Alan Chambers shut down the group. Randy also participated in the right wing political strategy organization The Arlington Group. Today, Randy is the founder of THRIVE LGBT+, which helps people escape and heal from the destructive impact of religious stigma against the LGBT+ community in all its forms including ex-gay ministry and conversion therapy.

Rep. Lieu authored the first ban on youth conversion therapy in the nation as a California State Senator and has introduced federal bans in the 114th and 115th Congresses.

“Conversion therapy is a fraudulent practice based on the prejudiced belief that someone can or should change their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Rep. Lieu said in a press release. “It inflicts immeasurable harm on those subjected to it, and turns a profit for scammers posing as mental health professionals.”

Eighteen states, as well as Puerto Rico and Washington DC now prohibit conversion therapy from being practiced on LGBTQ youth. The states that have banned the practice are: California, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Connecticut, Nevada, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Delaware, New York, Massachusetts, Maine and Colorado.

According to the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute, approximately 698,000 LGBTQ people have been subjected to conversion therapy in their lives. 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.”

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)

It is important to pass federal legislation now, because the failed “ex-gay” industry is launching a slick, new rebranding effort dubbed Changed Movement with the hashtag #OnceGay. This cynical comeback is an attempt to revive the movement from the ashes, after umbrella group Exodus International folded in 2013.

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.