Jacob Rudolph, who gained Internet notoriety in January after his father posted a video of the boy coming out to his high school, created a petition to ban gay conversion therapy for minors in New Jersey. The petition has garnered over 100,000 signatures since its launch in the last week of February, and supports legislation put forward by Democratic Senator Raymond J. Lesniak.
Introduced this past October, Lesniak’s bill would prohibit psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers from attempting to therapeutically change the sexual orientation of anyone under 18-years-old.
“The New Jersey Psychological Association (NJPA) supports the bill to protect LGBT minors going to counsel,” NJPA Executive Director Josephine Minardo told 429Magazine.
“Many associations indicate that reparative therapy is harmful. It’s uniformly agreed that it’s not effective and it seems an appropriate legislation.”
In Rudolph’s petition, he wrote: “Currently, the New Jersey state legislature is considering a bill that would protect minors from the harmful, discredited practice of gay conversion therapy, which subjects teens to psychologically damaging ‘treatment’ by so-called psychology counselors who falsely claim they can ‘fix’ the sexual orientation of children who identify as being LGBT.”
Rudolph publicly came out to 300 students in Parsippany High School in New Jersey. His father uploaded the video to YouTube and the video has been viewed 1.7 million times.
“Unfortunately, Governor Chris Christie has not yet said he will support this crucial legislation. Governor Christie must be made to understand how critical such legislation is to protecting the thousands of teens like me from the dangers of gay conversion therapy,” Rudolph continued in his petition.
“Major psychological, psychiatric, and counseling associations have found this ineffective and scientifically unsound practice to be harmful for young people. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association has concluded that a great risk of depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior result from anti-gay conversion therapy.”
Similar legislation was blocked in California last year.
Reparative therapy is also seeing a backlash in other parts of the world. Costa Rica’s Psychologists Association condemned the controversial method as having no medical basis.
“Since [being gay]is not a disease, it cannot be cured,” said Psychologists Association spokesperson Marisol Fournier in a press release.
“We do not focus on whether [gay people]are born [gay]or [become gay], [but instead focus on who they are]. As psychologists, we must ensure conditions for these people to live a life with emotional integrity, and this means recognizing them as individuals with their own sexual orientation and fully unmark this idea of homosexuality as a disease.”