Thursday, nine former leaders of so-called “ex-gay” ministries published a joint letter denouncing the dangerous practices of conversion therapy and lending their support to the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ (NCLR) #BornPerfect campaign to end conversion therapy in five years.
In the deeply personal letter, these nine leaders—including founders of Exodus International and Coming Back—recall their own struggles with being LGBT and what led them to propagate these ministries. After long and painful journeys, each ultimately came to the conclusion that conversion therapy and ex-gay ministries are ineffective and harmful, especially to LGBT youth, and can have disastrous consequences.
In the letter, they state: “As former ex-gay leaders, having witnessed the incredible harm done to those who attempted to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, we join together in calling for a ban on conversion therapy. It is our firm belief that it is much more productive to support, counsel, and mentor LGBT individuals to embrace who they are in order to live happy, well-adjusted lives. We fully support the aim of #BornPerfect to bring an end to conversion therapy.”
The letter was signed by: Brad Allen, former church network coordinator for Exodus International; Darlene Bogle, founder and former director of Paraklete Ministries; Michael Bussee, co-founder of Exodus International; Catherine Chapman, former Women’s Ministry director for the Portland Fellowship; Jeremy Marks, founder of Courage UK and Exodus Europe; Bill Prickett, founder and former executive director of Coming Back; Tim Rymel, former outreach director of Love in Action; Yvette Cantu Schneider, former executive director of Living in Victory Ministry and director of women’s ministry for Exodus International; and John J. Smid, former executive director of Love In Action and board member for Exodus International.
NCLR launched #BornPerfect in June to protect LGBT kids from the harms caused by attempts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. NCLR has been at the forefront of the effort to protect LGBT kids from these practices for more than 20 years, successfully working to help draft and pass California’s Senate Bill 1172 in 2012, the nation’s first to protect LGBT children from the dangers of conversion therapy. The following year, NCLR helped New Jersey pass a similar law and is now working with legislators and LGBT leaders in more than a dozen other states to bring protections to LGBT kids across the country.
Through #BornPerfect, NCLR:
- Provides state legislators and LGBT leaders with comprehensive resources and a solid foundation to build statewide campaigns;
- Works closely with state legislators and LGBT leaders throughout the legislative process, including drafting legislation, coordinating hearings with key witnesses, and gaining support to pass legislation;
- Raises awareness about these dangerous practices and the lasting harm they cause in the lives of LGBT children by empowering survivors and providing them with the support to speak out about their experiences;
- Fights in court for the safety and well-being of LGBT kids.
“We are committed to protecting LGBT children and their families from the severe harms caused by these dangerous practices,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “These practices have been thoroughly discredited by every major mental health organization, and yet, every day, young lives are wrecked. We intend to stop the practices once and for all.”
Read the letter here.