Disney villain and Vice President-Elect Mike Pence has voiced his support for conversion therapy, leading many LGBT people to fear for their mental wellbeing.
Conversion therapy, which has been likened to torture, employs painful and psychologically crippling techniques in order to “change” the sexual orientation of lesbian, gay and bisexual teenagers. “Therapists” induce vomiting and paralysis in patients while showing homoerotic images, force patients to snap themselves with elastic whenever they have a homosexual thought, electrically shock patients, teach patients how to act stereotypically masculine or feminine, employ “orgasmic reconditioning,” and even hypnotize patients.
Conversion therapy has been linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety, drug addiction, suicide and homelessness in youth.
The grassroots coalition 50 Bills 50 States aims to pass legislation banning conversion therapy in all 50 states. The therapy is already banned in five states: California, Illinois, Oregon, Vermont and New Jersey.
Samuel Brinton, a conversion therapy survivor and founder of the coalition, says,
We are going to work with legislators to introduce bills banning these brutal practices. We know every state won’t pass these bills in 2017 but the unanimity of submitting them will resonate from coast to coast.”
They’ve raised over $11,000 to build an educational website, shoot a video about conversion therapy and LGBT youth, print legislation materials, travel to forty-five states to submit bills in person, and provide mental health resources to conversion therapy survivors.
The group also hopes to partner with LGBT rights organizations in every state in order to learn about the work that has already been done on the ground and to meet with legislators who may be sympathetic to the cause.
Samuel Brinton is not new to activism. Since he was subjected to the poisonous “therapy,” he has been visiting colleges and universities across America in order to discuss traumatic homophobic practices and teach students how to pass legislation at a state level. His personal motto is, “You can’t change what I never chose.”
50 Bills 50 States is in need of website developers, press release writers, legal experts, and church and school liaisons. If you’d like to volunteer, check out their website.