It’s 9 p.m. and I’m scared and deeply upset. I just read an alarming report about the Lester Coon Adventist School in Alison, Tennessee. Starting tomorrow morning, this school is allowing a speaker to promote conversion therapy to kindergarteners and other elementary students under the guise of “healthy biblical sexuality.” This is happening with the blessing of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
As a survivor of similar trauma and spiritual abuse telling me I could change my sexuality, I can’t even begin to describe how disturbing this is to hear. In June 2022, I publicly came out and shared my personal journey and fight against spiritual abuse. The spiritual abuse I suffered is the same unconscionable narrative that will be shared every day this week in a Tennessee elementary school and church unless we stand up and demand that the Georgia-Cumberland Conference put a stop to this.
While most medical, psychological, religious and scientific professionals have rejected so-called “conversion therapies” for LBGTQ people, Coming Out Ministries, with the tacit approval of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, continues to peddle the harmful theory that sexual identity can be changed as a result of spiritual exercise; that God’s ideal for human sexuality allows for no deviation for the model established at Creation.
Why Is This A Big Deal?
Studies show that the rejection and guilt related to “conversion therapies” cause LBGTQ young people to consider suicide eight times more than that of the general population; they are nearly six times more likely to suffer from depression; twice as likely to smoke a cigarette before age 13 compared to their straight/cis-gen counterparts; more than three times as likely to use illegal drugs and be at high risk of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.
Theses alarming statistics are real. I nearly killed myself on multiple occasions because I felt there was no hope for me as a human because I couldn’t change my sexuality. I believed God didn’t love me.
Because of statistics such as these, Canada and 13 other countries have some form of national ban on conversion therapy. Here in the United States, 14 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation protecting LBGTQ youth and young people from conversion therapies provided by licensed practitioners.
The psychological and emotional distress caused by conversion therapies has caused most Christian organizations to stop using them. Many have issued apologies to those traumatized by them.
I call on anyone reading this to stand with me and call on the the Seventh-day Adventist Church to admit the harm caused by conversion therapies, such as Coming Out Ministries, and instead provide homes, schools and churches where people of all genders, races and sexual identities are welcome.
Let’s make that a reality.