LGBT youth must be allowed to grow into authentic adults they’re meant to be

LGBT youth must be allowed to grow into authentic adults they’re meant to be

Coming of age in the most supportive of environments can be a grueling process for any adolescent; coming to terms with one’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in a state that allows so-called therapists to try to change who they are can be devastating.

Minors do not have full, legal control over their healthcare and legislation is needed to protect them from being subjected to quackery judgments that they’re anything but normal.

The damaging practice of trying to change LGBT minors and deny them of their authentic identities needs to stop. Nearly every major medical association has agreed that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is not a disorder and opposes attempts to “cure” it.

In fact, the American Psychological Association (APA) cites negative effects of so-called “reparative therapy” such as depression, suicide and anxiety. California and New Jersey have led the way and many others are now stepping up with parallel efforts to put an end to this – Ohio, Maryland, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington D.C. and my home state of New York, to name a few.

We must pass this law in New York and in states around the country to send a strong message that our identities are to be respected.

Public opinion is in our favor – equal rights for LGBT people has more support than ever before – and this is one common sense bill that most can support.

Even some of the most notoriously vocal LGBT opposition groups on this issue are changing their tune. In June 2013, after 36 years of leading the “ex-gay” movement, Exodus International disbanded amid growing skepticism of its top officials and board members that sexual attractions can be changed.

Exodus President Alan Chamber apologized, saying he was “sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized patients.”

We’re living in a time when portrayals of LGBT identities are shown as normal and healthy on major television networks and our love is now recognized by the federal government with state laws swiftly catching up.

We cannot allow so-called therapists to continue to render the next generation of LGBT Americans insecure, confused and psychologically inflicted. We must clear away the old, ignorant ways of thinking to give a full chance at happiness to our next generation of LGBT Americans.

Coming out is not a process, it’s a journey. No one should be discouraged from finding their own path on their own terms and given every opportunity for empowerment and confidence along the way.

As visibility for our community increases and public opinion shifts in the direction of acceptance, young LGBT people are coming out at ages earlier than ever before. Unfortunately, homophobia and transphobia are still pervasive and our vulnerable youth continue to face rejection from their friends and families at a time when they need support the most.

Our children must be allowed to grow into the beautiful, diverse, and authentic adults they’re meant to be.

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