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The National Center for Lesbian Rights Newsletter | FALL 2012 FOR JUSTICE NCLR BLOG California Becomes First State to Protect LGBT Youth from Psychological Abuse When California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1172, co-sponsored by NCLR, California became the first state in the nation to protect LGBT youth from dangerous practices used by therapists to try to change their clients’ sexual orientation or gender expression. A survivor of this psychological abuse shares his story. ELECTION COVERAGE What President Obama’s Re-election Means for the LGBT Community… PAGE 3 By Ryan Kendall Guest Columnist Photos by David Barreda I was at home, deep into studying for my fallsemester class load at Columbia University in New York City, when I got the news that California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1172 into law, protecting young lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth from the same type of psychological abuse that I endured at the hands of mental health professionals who tried to change my sexual orientation. It was a powerful thing to know that we had finally done something to stop the psychological abuse that had a defining impact on my life, and on the lives of too many LGBT youth. I have known I was gay since I was a young boy growing up in a conservative, Christian household in Colorado, where I tried to hide my sexual orientation from everyone around me—including school classmates who tormented me with words like “faggot” because they thought I was different. My parents discovered that I was gay when I was a young teenager—and suddenly the loving home that I had known began to quickly fall apart, with my parents growing increasingly worried and sending me to see Joseph Nicolosi, a Southern California therapist who told them he could make me straight. Instead, my weekly sessions with this man set me on a devastating, decade-long course of self-destruction, as each session made me sink Ryan Kendall is a survivor of the type of psychological abuse now banned in California. deeper into depression and drove me to the brink of suicide. Eventually, I realized that the only way for me to escape the psychological abuse was to leave home. At 16, when most young people are making college plans, my sole focus became finding a way to stay safe and alive. I was forced to navigate my way through a complex social welfare system, surrendering myself to the Colorado Department of Human Services, and taking legal action to revoke my parents’ custody. Only then did my “therapy” finally end, leaving me to deal with years of depression, substance abuse, and occasional homelessness. It took more than a decade, but I finally rebuilt my life. Unfortunately, many other young people who are subjected to these abusive practices aren’t so lucky, sinking so deeply into depression that they are never able to see themselves as anything other than the “damaged” people these charlatans make them out to be. I know firsthand how destructive it can be to believe that you are somehow defective or unworthy of love. The truth is simple: I did not choose to be gay any more than I chose to be Hispanic, brown-eyed, or short. There is nothing wrong with who I am, just as there is nothing wrong with the CONTINUED ON PAGE 5… A THE AGENDA Impacts of President Obama’s Re-election on LGBT Legislation and Policy Advancing Family and Parenting Laws Student Plaintiff Shares Story of Harassment Update on NCLR’s Active Work You, Our Devoted Donors, Made a Difference in So Many Lives PAGE 3 PAGE 4 PAGE 6 PAGE 7 PAGE 12

Out for Justice: NCLR Fall 2012 Newsletter

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