Senate Panel Advances Bill To Ban 'Conversion Therapy'

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. March 18, 2013

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Advocates testify in support of the ban at Senate Health Committee hearing (photo by Phil Gregory)

The health committee in the New Jersey Senate has advanced legislation that would ban licensed therapists from counseling gay children to change their sexual orientation.

The so-called ‘conversion therapy’ came in for criticism from gays.

Toms River resident Brielle Goldani  says when she was 14 years old she was sent to a camp in Ohio and was given electric shocks as part of the treatment to convince her to become straight.

 “To this day I live with the psychological damage that was done to me. Because of this program I attempted suicide three times. This was nothing more than legalized child abuse.”

Ryan Kendall is a student at Columbia University, He says ‘conversion therapy’ destroyed his life when he was 16.

 “My faith and my family had rejected me, and the damaging messages of conversion therapy coupled with this rejection drove me to the brink of suicide. For the next decade I struggled with depression, periods of homelessness, and drug abuse.”

Tara King is a counselor in Brick Township. She says she has concerns with the legislation because therapists should be allowed to help young clients with homosexual feelings who want to become straight.

 “It’s not client centered. When my clients come to me I fix what they want me to fix. I don’t determine what they want me to address.”

Some former gays say the conversion programs helped them get rid of their homosexual feelings.

Carol Gallentine is a parent who believes the ban would interfere with parents’ rights to choose counseling for their kids.

 “I see you people bullying the parents with our children. That’s not right.”

The measure has not yet been considered by the Assembly and there’s no indication whether Governor Christie would sign it if it reaches his desk.


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