March 13, 2017
Here's a quiz for you: What's the difference between: a) Christian churches and schools that teach the historical orthodox consensus that the Bible says homosexual conduct is not God's will; b) Well-trained, compassionate professional therapists who help clients with unwanted same-sex attractions achieve the client's own goals; c) Loving parents making careful and responsible decisions about health care for their children; and d) a couple of fly-by-night "boarding schools" for "troubled youth" of all kinds in Alabama that physically and emotionally abused children? If you answered, "There's a huge difference," you would be correct. But if you answered, "They're all the same thing -- gay 'conversion therapy camps!'" then you might have a future ahead of you as "Chief Investigative Reporter" for ABC News.
The man who currently holds that title, Brian Ross, put together a completely irresponsible and grossly misleading hour-long report on what LGBT activists and ABC call "conversion therapy camps," which aired Friday night on the news magazine 20/20. It focused primarily on two unregulated, unaccredited boarding schools (not "camps") in Alabama, and the personal testimony of one self-identified gay teenager named Lucas who told Ross he had the misfortune of being physically beaten at both of them. (In fact, the hour-long episode depended so much on this single personal testimony that it was titled, "A Boy Named Lucas.")
Despite ABC's breathless commentary, this was hardly breaking news -- Alabama media have had many reports on these schools, and the three leaders of one facility were recently convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for child abuse. However, if you listened very closely, you would have noticed that even on 20/20, neither the police investigator, the prosecutor, nor the judge ever mentioned sexual orientation as being a factor in the abuse. Nor did half a dozen local news reports, adding up to thousands of words. While we have no reason to doubt Lucas' testimony, ABC presented no evidence that the percentage of the "troubled youth" in these facilities who identified as "gay" was any larger than the percentage in the general population who do so.
That's why FRC's Peter Sprigg, who gamely attempted to inject some reason and accuracy during his interview with 20/20, stands by his belief that the idea of a shadowy network of "camps" focused primarily on forced "conversion therapy" for youth is largely a myth. What does exist are responsible, professional, compassionate therapists and counselors who are available to help youth and adults with unwanted same-sex attractions who voluntarily seek help. The fact that 20/20 did not even interview a single actual therapist for a story about "therapy," or a single ex-gay person for a story about sexual orientation change, shows that they had little interest in the truth.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.