A new study from the Family Acceptance Project has found that attempts by authority figures to change the sexual orientation of LGBTQ adolescents, also known as conversion therapy, contributes to various amounts of mental health issues. These issues include lower self-esteem levels, higher depression levels, and an increase in suicidal behavior, compared to LGBTQ adolescents that were not exposed to the controversial therapy.
The study reported the rates of attempted suicide by LGBTQ youth whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation were more than double (48%) the rate of LGBTQ youth who reported no conversion experiences (22%). Suicide attempts nearly tripled for LGBTQ young people who reported both home-based efforts to change their sexual orientation by parents and intervention efforts by therapists and religious leaders (63%). Also, high levels of depression more than doubled (33%) for LGBTQ young people whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation compared with those who reported no conversion experiences (16%) and more than tripled (52%) for LGBT young people who reported both home-based efforts to change their sexual orientation by parents and external sexual orientation change efforts by therapists and religious leaders.
Dr. Caitlin Ryan, Director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University and lead author noted, “Although parents and religious leaders who try to change a child’s LGBT identity may be motivated by attempts to ‘protect’ their children, these rejecting behaviors instead undermine an LGBT child’s sense of self-worth, contribute to self-destructive behaviors that significantly increase risk and inhibit self-care which includes constricting their ability to make a living.”
Now the question becomes, what can we do to help with this concrete information? Sadly, not much, as very few states have made conversion therapy illegal. Therefore, it will be near impossible to nip this problem in the bud. You can educate parents, especially with strong religious beliefs all you want, but the odds of convincing them to change their behavior with these statistics is slim to none. Almost all of these people do not believe in science, or being born gay, or that dinosaurs once ruled the earth. However, the information in this study can be used to help the LGTBQ youth as they get older by creating a way to meet their needs in a more timely fashion.
If you or a loved one you know battles with any Mental Health Issues, please do get the help you need. If you need to talk to someone now, you can talk to one of the many fantastic therapists at Better Help by CLICKING HERE.
Photo Credit: Family Acceptance Project