CommunityPam's House Blend

Update on the Tennessee teen held at Love In Action's "ex-gay" camp


Protesters in front of Love in Action.

This is a long post, but well-worth it. House Blenders Paul B. and Stephanie pointed me to an update on the Love In Action “ex-gay” camp that’s currently holding Zach, a Tennessee teen against his will. My earlier Blend post is here. (Southern Voice):

The state of Tennessee has begun an investigation in response to allegations of child abuse at Love in Action, a Memphis facility that advertises homosexual conversion therapy for adolescents, according to the state department of health.

K. Daniele Edwards, a spokesperson for Child Services at the Tennessee Department of Health, confirmed an investigation is underway but declined to comment on the details. She noted that she presumes the Love in Action program would require licensing by the state.

Gay activists protested outside an unlicensed ‘ex-gay’ facility run by Love In Action, which Tennessee officials are investigating to see if teens are being mistreated.

Love in Action is not licensed by the Tennessee Departments of Health, Mental Health, Human Services, Child Services or Education, according to Rachel Lassiter of Gov. Phil Bredesen’s communications office.

House Blender Paul Chirumbolo, a licensed Marriage and Family therapist, contacted me a little over a week ago, indicating that he had filed a Child Abuse report to Tennessee authorities on Friday morning, June 10, reporting suspected willful cruelty, child endangerment, and “suicidal ideation” of a minor. It looks likt this paid off. I am printing excerpts from what he reported in an email to WMC-TV in Memphis, which contacted him to follow up on the Child Abuse report filed.

…I have highlighted those warning signs which exist at the Love In Action facility. You can read the full Love In Action protocols on the online blog posted by the minor in question at prior to his having been forcibly placed in the Love In Action facility.

  1. The facility is not licensed. Unknown [Now confirmed in the above story – P.]
  2. Verbal and/or written communication between the child and his parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. is prohibited, restricted, or monitored on any level.
  3. The facility requires that the parents and/or child sign a form releasing the program of liability in the event of injury to the child. Unknown
  4. The program requests/demands/recommends that they have legal custody of children. Unknown
  5. The program requires that children live in foster or “host” homes instead of allowing them to reside with their parents. Unknown
  6. The child or parent or forbidden from discussing the daily happenings at the facility. Often this policy is called “confidentiality.”
  7. The child is denied access to a telephone.
  8. Phone calls between children and parents are monitored.
  9. The program uses confrontational therapy.
  10. Parents must fulfill requirements of the facility before being permitted to visit their own children. Unknown
  11. The facility is located outside the jurisdiction of the United States.
  12. Children are restrained or otherwise physically prevented from leaving the facility. Unknown
  13. The staff includes former students/clients of the facility. Reported by past detainees.
  14. Staff members claim that self-injury or cutting/carving on ones body is normal behavior for a child in treatment.
  15. Parents are not allowed to remain with their child during the entire intake/entry process. Unknown
  16. The program inflicts physical punishments on children such as exercising for extended periods of time, bizarre cleaning rituals (ie scrubbing floors with a toothbrush) or food restrictions. Unknown
  17. The program uses humiliation to “break them down.” Love In Action calls them shaming sessions, as reported by former detainees.
  18. The program forces children to remain in solitary confinement/isolation/time-out for an unspecified amount of time.For a start, for the first 3 days in detention.
  19. The facility considers homosexuality to be a behavioral problem.
  20. The facility claims to be able to “treat” homosexuality.
  21. Reading materials are prohibited or severely limited.
  22. The facility does not have a clearly visible sign outside the building or descriptions of their location are vague.
  23. The facility claims to modify behavior, yet has no licensed therapists on staff.
  24. A licensed doctor or registered nurse is not present at any time during normal operating hours. Unknown
  25. Current clients/students participate in the intake/entry process. Unknown
  26. Staff members offer to help parents obtain a court order forcing the child into, or keeping the child in, the facility. Unknown
  27. Children are observed while bathing, dressing, or using the toilet on any level of the program.
  28. The facility claims to treat drug abuse, but does not conduct a drug screen prior to entry.
  29. The facility does not allow children to follow their religion of choice.
  30. Staff members must “approve” family members, siblings, friends, or employment. Suggested in the Love In Action protocols
  31. Children are not afforded an education in accordance with state requirements.
  32. Medication is recommended, prescribed, approved, or dispensed by anyone other than a medical doctor (MD). Unknown
  33. Children are denied medications that have been prescribed by an MD. Unknown
  34. Staff members, admissions personnel, referrers, etc. make statements indicating that “your child will die without” the program. Love In Action Director has made statements condoning suicide if the “gay to straight” conversion is unsuccessful
  35. Children escort/supervise other children. Unknown
  36. Children have to “earn” the “right” to speak during group/therapy sessions.
  37. Children are denied outside activities on any level/phase.
  38. Staff members must approve the withdrawal of children from the facility. Unknown
  39. The facility expects total and unquestioned support of parents. Suggested
  40. Children on any level/phase are forbidden to speak to other children in the facility.

As I noted, my reports were made by phone.

I imagine that Child Protective Services holds such reports as confidential.

As the minor has stated suicidal ideation in a public forum, and as Love In Action holds no privilege in this matter, I am not bound to matters of confidentiality.

My purpose is the safety of the minor.

No evidence exists that core sexual orientation can be modified through such techniques.

Sexual reorientation ministries, such as Love In Action attempt to treat a disorder which doesn’t exist using unethical therapeutic techniques which don’t work while s
imply ignoring the damage they do to the majority of people who fail to change—people who are judged to be resistant , morally corrupt, unrepentant, or simply weak.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding