A recent BuzzFeed exposé delved into the experiences of both former employees and students of the River View Christian Academy in California where care was withheld from students in an attempt to make them “go straight.”
The boarding school, which was opened in 1993, still operates in a remote part of California. It markets itself as a place for teens who are “rebelling against authority,” in addition to other “common” teenage issues.
Although they are a Christian-based academy, they claim that people are not required to “participate in spiritual activities,” and that they serve people of all faiths.
The BuzzFeed article, however, paints a picture of a facility with a distinct anti-gay bias.
The piece begins with the story of one student, Emilie Bachrach, who was at the facility from the autumn of 2005 until the spring of 2007. While there, she formed a friendship with another student, Rosemary Donahue.
Staff became concerned that the two of them were growing too close and administered a “No Talk” rule that would make it harder for the pair to graduate if they spoke – or even looked – at each other.
Past students corroborated Bachrach’s account, speaking of punishments for declaring that they were gay or bisexual. Punishments that included a “No Touch” policy, where students were forbidden any physical contact.
According to the article, one student was punished with “No Touch” and was told that their “flesh would burn off my skin repeatedly for eternity in hell because I was gay.”
The academy’s controversial “treatments” are not recognized as valid forms of intervention. They are also not legal in California.
A bill to curb the practice of “conversion therapy,” which may have affected the practices at River View Christian Academy, was recently shelved by Assemblyman Evan Low as he seeks to create consensus with members of state religious organizations.