Social Sciences

Start Free Trial

What should parents know about conversion therapy?

Parents should be informed that the practice of conversion therapy is unethical and can have devastating consequences for the individual that's being exposed to it.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Conversion therapy is a scientifically unproven practice in which attempts are made to change a person's sexual orientation from nonheterosexual to heterosexual, or to "convert" their sexuality and/or gender identity.

Numerous studies and research papers show how conversion therapy is harmful and inhumane and can lead to depression, anxiety, mental and emotional problems, self-harm, and even suicide. It's important for all pediatricians, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and other experts to properly inform parents who come to them requesting conversion therapy for their children that such practices are malicious, ineffective, harmful, and unethical, based on outdated beliefs. Nonexperts, such as friends and family who don't share the parents' mentality, should try to help the parents understand that different sexual orientations and gender identities exist and that it's immoral and intolerant to deny them.

All doctors and other licensed professionals have an ethical and moral obligation to make sure that their patients aren't exposed to something that causes them harm or disregards their well-being. Thus, it's important to devise a strategy which will take the parents' perspective into consideration—to see how they perceive different sexualities and/or gender identities and to understand their emotional responses, taking that as a guide to properly educate them on these matters, as well as to provide support for the child.

It's also essential to remind the parents that accepting their child's identity is of utmost importance when it comes to its growth and development, as well as its mental and emotional state. In addition, it is important to list all of the risks that come with conversion therapy and provide enough scientific evidence and information that discredits such methods and practices.

Finally, it's notable to mention that licensed professionals and nonexperts should try to be less assertive or aggressive with their explanations, as they may risk losing the trust of the parents and may unintentionally put the child's mental and even physical health at risk. A calm and rational approach is always more effective and efficient, as well as frequent conversations and discussions with both the parents and the child.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on