June is Pride month! It is time to celebrate our families, friends and community members who identify as LGBTQ. We do this because they were persecuted and unable to live freely for many years.
Discrimination can still negatively impact our youth, which is one reason why celebrating them is so important. Much of America has made significant progress in understanding that all humans deserve to be treated with dignity and pursue their own happiness.
Unfortunately, our state senator is not someone who has exhibited care and compassion for his constituents. Sen. Bryce Reeves has presented himself as a defender of children when the exact opposite is true.
Conversion therapy is junk science that falsely claims to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Do you believe a straight person can be shamed into being gay? Of course not. The converse is also true. A gay person cannot be shamed or beaten into being straight.
Conversion “therapy” is not therapy at all, but is child abuse when perpetrated on minors. It is fraudulent and in direct violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act. This is not an unsubstantiated opinion. This torture has been condemned by more than 15 major medical organizations.
Mr. Reeves has no professional training or experience in the provision of mental health services and has chosen to recklessly disregard professional opinions. Eighteen other states have followed the guidance of experts and banned this torment.
Yet when given the chance to protect the children of Virginia from this abuse, Reeves chose to vote for continuing this horror. He supported pseudoscience and voted to allow the practice to continue to be legal in Virginia. Reeves chose to fail our children.
The only outcome of this abuse, as with many other forms of abuse, that has been found to be consistently true is that youth who are subjected to this suffering are more likely to attempt or complete suicide. Why would he vote against protecting vulnerable children?
It is time for true representation in Richmond. It is past time to value, love, and support all of our children. The general election is in November. If you care about children, please vote for a Democratic candidate who will protect our children from further harm.
Amy Laufer is a strong advocate of the LGBTQ community. It is time that our legislators reflect our values, work to make us proud and vote to keep our children safe.
Aleta Strickland, Ed., NCSP - Licensed School Psychologist, Louisa Psychological Consulting, PC
Editor’s Note: this op-ed originally appeared in the June 13th edition of the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.