Liz Flaherty: Banning Conversion Therapy Will Not Protect Children

On March 4, I flew to Boston to testify at the Massachusetts capital hearing regarding the proposed bills H.140/S.70, which if passed, would ban conversion therapy.  

My reasons for going were very personal and close to my heart. I feel strongly that the ban on conversion therapy for minors would greatly hinder much needed holistic care that health-care professionals can offer to children who question their sexual identity and orientation.

Many states desire to ban conversion therapy because it has been labeled harmful. And in fact, some of the examples of “conversion therapy” described in the hearings included such harmful practices as electric shock therapy, exposure to pornography, forced separation from loved ones, and extreme public shaming. However, the greater health-care community, including those with faith-based practices, already considers these methods barbaric and unethical. Blasted by the media, this kind of “conversion therapy” has become a straw man, erected with the intent of advocating one sided and biased counseling methods that support an ideology that sexuality is completely fixed.

But do not be misinformed. The proposed legislation in Massachusetts (and similar bills being proposed elsewhere) is about much, much more than protecting children from shock therapy and other ill-favored practices. These bills define “conversion therapy” in such a way as to prohibit any health-care professional from therapeutically questioning a minor’s sexual orientation or desire to transition gender.  Under this law, a health-care professional could have their license suspended for doing anything other than affirming a minor’s feelings of same-sex attraction or perceived gender identity. Furthermore, if passed, these laws would threaten parental rights. If a child’s physician prescribes medications, such as non FDA approved hormone blockers, or further suggests surgery to transition a minor, concerned parents could lose their parental rights to do what they think is ultimately in the best interest of their child. Instead, the state would decide what is best under this bill.

Here is a summary of what I shared and my concerns regarding this growing trend.

“My name is Liz Flaherty. I am 40 years old, and I was born into a Christian family.

I was sexually abused at the age of six by a trusted older family friend, a fact that I hid from my parents out of fear and shame. Keeping this secret left me feeling tormented, rejected, and alone. I developed very low self-esteem, which was reinforced by massive amounts of bullying and rejection I endured by my male peers growing up.

I hated myself. I believed I was abnormal. I lived a life of shame.

No matter how hard I tried to intimately relate and connect with men, I found that those relationships left me feeling shallow, compared to the depth of intimacy and connection I felt with women.

Because of these feelings, I CAME OUT my senior year of high school as a lesbian, much to the confusion of my parents. Even in their sadness, however, they did not reject me, and I was greatly supported by my highly liberal community in our small town in northern California.

Coinciding with my sexual liberation, in my early twenties, tragedy struck our home, and I lost both my parents in a three-year time period to cancer. I became the legal guardian of my brother, who was 12 years old at the time.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Liz Flaherty