Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order Tuesday to block state funds and resources from being used for conversion therapy in Pennsylvania.
“We can stand up and tell LGBTQ youth that we hear them, we accept them exactly as they are,” Gov. Wolf said.
“I think it’s very troubling that the Wolf administration is seeking to ban freedom of speech and thought,” Pennsylvania Family Institute Policy and Communication Officer Alexis Sneller countered.
Conversion therapy aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Those opposed to it call it damaging and traumatic for LGBTQ youth.
“The practice of so-called conversion therapy can lead to irreparable damage to an individual’s well-being,” Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs Executive Director Rafael Alvarez Febo explained.
Those in favor of conversion therapy say it’s a therapy option people should have.
“Looking at children who feel uncomfortable in their bodies, they don’t have the option and this stops them from having the options to learn how to feel comfortable in their own growing bodies,”
“I am a survivor of conversion therapy,” LGBTQ Affairs Commission Member Carla Christopher Wilson said during Tuesday’s press conference surrounding the executive order signing. She was a teenager when she says she was sent to conversion therapy in another state, for a week, with no contact to the outside world.
“I am still ashamed to admit that it didn’t even take the whole week for them to break me,” she recalled.
It came after confessing to a crush she had in Bible study.
“Within two days that involved being held in a lightless room the size of a closet, pressed to the floor by more hands than I could count, I begged any human or any god that would listen to save me,” she continued. “Even change me if it would make it stop.”
It took her over 10 years to be able to share her experience – and now she does so in order to advocate for inclusivity.