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Letter to End Conversion Therapy in Iowa

Dear Legislator,

You recently received letter from the National Taskforce for Therapy Equality inaccurately and dangerously telling you conversion therapy is a wholesome approach for people whom wish to become “ex-gay”. Not only was this letter extremely offensive to survivors of conversion therapy, but the letter demonizes those putting safeguards in place to protect children from unwanted and coerced abuse. Iowa Safe Schools serves as the leading voice from kids, families, and professionals across Iowa who are subjected to discrimination, bullying, and assault— and we will not let the dangers of conversion therapy be silenced by a misleading propaganda piece stating being LGBTQ is a choice.

Let’s take a moment to set the record straight, and not with alternative or misleading facts. Being gay is not a choice. Having to continually justify the right to exist as an equal because of sexual orientation is demeaning and un-American. Protecting constitutional rights and safeguards for the LGBTQ community is made unnecessarily more difficult because of organizations like the National Taskforce for Therapy Equality. They are advocating as victims of faith-based conversion therapy and fundraising off of blanket statements attacking equal rights groups. Do not be confused, the real victims are children being forcibly coerced into conversion therapy.

Source- National Association of Social Workers: “transformational ministries are fueled by stigmatization of lesbians and gay men, which in turn produces the social climate that pressures some people to seek change in sexual orientation. No data demonstrate that reparative or conversion therapies are effective, and in fact they may be harmful.”

Source- American Medical Association: “Our AMA… opposes, the use of ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy that is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.”

Source- American Psychiatric Association: “The potential risks of “reparative therapy” are great and include depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.”

Source- American Psychological Association: “the American Psychological Association encourages mental health professionals to avoid misrepresenting the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts by promoting or promising change in sexual orientation when providing assistance to individuals distressed by their own or others’ sexual orientation…”

Both Republicans and Democrats have taken the lead on ending dangerous conversion therapy practices in several states:

Governor Chris Christie, “..on issues of medical treatment for children we must look to experts in the field to determine the relative risks and rewards. The American Psychological Association has found that efforts to change sexual orientation can pose critical health risks including, but not limited to, depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts. I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate.”

Governor Kate Brown, “There are many things that young people need, but breaking them down based on their sexual or gender identity is not one of them — and in fact, it’s inexcusable. Our young people deserve acceptance, support, and love. To the young people who question their identities, suffer from bullying, or struggle with what it means to come out, today is your day. Your voices have been heard.”

Iowa Safe schools is asking Iowa to join the movement to ban conversion therapy, solidifying our role as a state who stands up and fights for what is right. We hope you recognize the serious nature of these fraudulent and deceptive acts by the National Taskforce for Therapy equality and take steps to ensure that conversion therapy is banned in Iowa before more children are hurt by these dangerous practices. Will you help make Iowa the 9th (5th republican led) state to ban conversion therapy?

Respectfully yours,

Nate A. Monson
Executive Director, Iowa Safe Schools