Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Psychological Child Abuse

As many of you, who have followed my writing know, I am a mom and a grandmother. I have suffered through the teen years, have started watching a new generation head into those learning and experiencing years, and laughed, cried, worried and beamed with pride at my progeny and theirs.

I have always been appalled by those who treat their children as chattel, as less than human beings, and have never spared the rod. The old "do as I say not as I do" crowd. That is not to say that my children never experienced my hand on their plump little behinds. Let's face it, there is just so much talking you can do at times. Hopefully they never experienced a more devastating form of abuse...the psychological kind.

This morning though, I am sitting here shaking my head in disbelief over abuse that some would be hard pressed to label as such. It even has a name, which I suppose elevates it to "non abuse" status, at least in some minds. It is called Reparative Therapy, and it is designed to haul your son or daughter back from the brink of damnation should they decide that they are homosexual. It is up front and center psychological abuse.

Fueled by the religious right, these zealots have decided, despite knowledge to the contrary, that homosexuality is a "choice" of a detrimental lifestyle and therefore can be turned around or cured. To quote Dr. Douglas Haldeman, President of The Association of Practicing Psychologists, " I can give you a short answer to where reparative therapy fits in with the modern mental health profession: It does not. These theories have been discredited for years."

He is right. For many years homosexuality was listed by the Psychiatric Assoc. as a mental disorder. But in light of much modern research, genetic studies and the like, a more enlightened understanding has emerged and it is now recognized not as a lifestyle choice but more as a pre-determined result of genetic coding.

Why is there such homophobia? Why do some see homosexuality as the Hydra or Satan at work in the world? It seems to be a specifically Judeo-Christian fear. Homosexuals have been forever amongst us, and rarely looked upon as they are today in our modern, enlightened world.

Religious views of homosexuality have always varied. Both Greek and Roman religions and societies looked upon it as a positive influence. Men in those groups were expected to take male lovers as it was heterosexual relationships that drained a warrior's strength. The downfall of those two empires had nothing to do with homosexuality. Our own native American cultures felt that those who were gender-variant held a certain status as they possessed spiritual powers. Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) have taken various stances on it at various periods in history).

Today, however, it is a thing to be greatly feared. The hypocrisy surrounding this is mind boggling to me. Let me explain.

Most of those who have a deep seated fear of homosexuals call themselves Christians. They are a group with strong "Family Values". They love God, Jesus and their families. They are solid members of their communities and are patriotic. Most of them work hard and believe in the American Dream. They want to see their children succeed. Not much wrong with that picture is there? Sounds like most of us. However, all those beliefs are very specific. It has to be THEIR way and there is just no wiggle room for homosexuality. It seems as if THEIR God, could not possibly have made "queers", therefore it is the work of Satan. And it is therefore their Christian duty to wipe it out.

From the earliest years of their lives you tell your child...You can tell me anything. You can come to me and talk about anything. I am here for you. I will listen to you. I will dialogue with you. What could be more reassuring to a child? They do not always choose to do this. At some point their peer group seems to have the answers they seek so you may miss out on a few things, but by and large, if you have developed a good strong, loving relationship with your child or children all is well. But NOT if you choose to "come out" to your parents and they are of the Christian mindset that this makes you warped.

So now we come to Zack a bright 16 year old who decided that he needed to let his parents know he was gay. Most of Zack's friends knew that he was. He was not "bashed" at school. No, no, the bashing started at home with mom and dad. Zack posted to his web site that he had come out to his parents and of course the information had landed like a lead balloon. They told him that there was "something psychologically wrong with me" and that "they raised me wrong."

So now they must see to it that Zack is cured and what better way to do this than to haul his behind down to the local Fundamentalist church where they run a program called Refuge, a "camp" where all will be set right. The only thing about this is that Zack, savvy as he and most teenagers today are, forsees problems ahead. To quote again from his blog, "If I do come out straight, I will be so mentally unstable and depressed it won't matter." I cannot even imagine the hell which this child is about to experience.

Do his parents love him? I am sure that they do.But their fear of the unknown, of something that their faith has TAUGHT them to fear seems greater than the love they should have for their child.

To learn more about what Zack is facing you can go here.

Hang tough Zack, and give 'em hell!!