New Jersey could possibly become the second state in the country to ban gay conversion therapy. The state’s Senate Health Committee approved legislation banning the use of this dangerous therapy technique for minors, but influential Governor Chris Christie says that he still isn’t sure if he supports the legislation or not.
According to the Newark Star-Ledger, Christie explained:
“Number one, I think there should be lots of deference given to parents on raising their children. … Generally philosophically, on bills that restrict parents ability to make decisions on how to care for their children, I’m generally a skeptic of those bills. Now, there can always be exceptions to those rules and this bill may be one of them.”
As a parent, I would like the opportunity to convince Governor Christie why his admirable “deference to parents” shouldn’t apply here.
Dear Governor Christie,
I’m the mother of a beautiful 5-year-old girl. I love her with all my heart. And in general, I believe that I should have the right to teach my daughter all about the morals and ethics that are important to me. I want to teach her about equality and self-respect, hard work and responsibility. I don’t think that any should get to step in and tell me what moral lessons I need to convey to my daughter.
That being said, the central duty of our government is to keep its citizens safe. That is why, even though we respect a parent’s right to raise his or her children as they see fit, we have laws banning child abuse and neglect. The government has a duty to keep children safe, even if the person hurting them is a parent.
Gay conversion therapy is akin to child abuse. It hurts kids and it tells them that a fundamental part of their being is wrong and needs to be “cured.” This isn’t just a single person telling you her moral belief. This is a fact. Major health organizations reject this therapy as being harmful. The World Health Organization calls it a threat to young people. Kids who have undergone this therapy have shocking increases in their rate of suicide.
This therapy is dangerous for the children forced into it. It is child abuse, inflicted behind a cloak of concern and mental health treatment. And no matter what ideals or principles you hide behind, child abuse is against the law, because the government has a duty to protect young people.
In a million circumstances, I will agree with and appreciate your deference to parents. But gay conversion therapy is not just a parenting choice. It’s child abuse. It’s subjecting your child to proven unsafe medical treatment.
We would punish a parent who fed their child unsafe prescription drugs, drugs that respected medical authorities say shouldn’t be given to kids. Banning gay conversation therapy is the same thing. I hope you’ll agree that in this case, the safety of your state’s children is the most important thing. Thank you.