Conversion therapy support group offers hope, resources to survivors

Conversion Therapy Dropout Network

Curtis Galloway is the executive director of the Conversion Therapy Dropout Network, a support group for survivors of conversion therapy. Photo: Curtis Galloway.

The Conversion Therapy Dropout Network will host a round table event for conversion therapy survivors Sunday, October 20th, in Los Angeles.

Approximately 700,00 LGBT people have been subjected to conversion therapy and 22,000 youth will be subjected to a form of the practice also known as “reparative therapy,” before they turn 18 years old, according to a study from the Williams Institute.

This leaves many survivors feeling alone due to the trauma and isolation tactics used by the practitioners.

Curtis Galloway, executive director of The Conversion Therapy Dropout Network and a survivor, speaking with journalist Brody Levesque in an interview on Rated LGBT Radio, Thursday, October 17 , said that he founded the organization in March after substantial research and realizing that such a group didn’t already exist.

“I got to work on forming this organization to provide a space for conversion therapy survivors (dropouts) to heal and find solace in knowing they are not alone,” Galloway said.

Knowing other survivors and sharing their experiences helps them heal from the trauma they endured, Galloway said.

Conversion therapy is considered a pseudo-science practice. For example, a licensed therapist, religious leader or counselor attempts to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity using psychological or spiritual-faith based interventions.

In 2001, U. S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, issued a report stating that “there is no valid scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.”

The highest-profile advocates of conversion therapy are often fundamentalist Christian organizations that use a religious justification for the therapy.

As of May 2019, 18 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and some counties and municipalities have passed law banning the practice of conversion therapy on minors.

Galloway noted that according to a recent Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report, people subjected to conversion therapy are eight times more likely to attempt suicide, six times more likely to have high depression, three times more likely to use illegal drugs, and have three times the normal risk of HIV or STD infection.

“Many LGBTQIA+ minors are subjected to this practice against their will. It is estimated that nearly 700,000 individuals have gone through conversion therapy with nearly 350,000 being minors,” he said adding, “Conversion therapy leaves many individuals feeling isolated and broken with limited resources to help them.”

Galloway hopes that The Conversion Therapy Dropout Network becomes a valuable resource for survivors.

“We will be engaging with our community and sharing our stories to better understand how our stories connect us as a community,” he said. “It is important for survivors to connect and many find it comforting to share their stories with those who can identify with them.”

Galloway stressed that the meeting is for survivors. It will take place Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m. at a Peerspace location in the Leimert Park neighborhood, 1915 W. 42nd Place, Los Angeles, from 3  to 6 p.m. For more information visit the Conversion Therapy Dropout Network Facebook Page.

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