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A Dangerous Form Of 'Therapy' That, Believe It Or Not, Is Legal In 48 States

And get this: Not only has the research been debunked and abandoned by its lead researcher, but the practice itself has been rejected by the every major mental health profession. So why's it still happening?

A Dangerous Form Of 'Therapy' That, Believe It Or Not, Is Legal In 48 States

WARNING: There is a graphic testimonial by a person who went through this so-called "therapy" from 1:40 to 2:25 and in the text below. If that might be triggering for you, I recommend skipping over it.

Conversion therapy claims to convert homosexual people to heterosexual people and transgender people to cisgender people.


Seriously.

We know that conversion therapy does not work.

And that makes what these so-called "therapists" put their "patients" through so much worse. For example...

Patients are forced to adhere to traditional gender roles.

For example, male patients are told to participate in manly things like sports (and beer drinking and farting contests, probably) and attend men's church group meetings and avoid activities that are super gay like going to museums or the opera or having sex with other men.

Male patients should also avoid women "unless it is for romantic contact." The patient is considered "cured" when he gets married (to a woman) and has children (with a woman).

Of course, this line of thinking totally ignores the difference between gender expression and sexual orientation:

And anyone who doesn't conform to strict, traditional gender roles is given the cold shoulder.

This. Is. Not. Real. Therapy.

Some patients are forced to endure painful sessions of physical aversion therapy.

TRIGGER WARNING: Graphic description of aversion therapy in the next three GIFs.

Unfortunately, aversion therapy *does* work. Kind of.

A hug could probably do a lot more good in this situation than ice blocks. Just sayin'.

To recap: "Ex-gay" or "conversion" therapy is basically torture and does not work. And yet...

It's still legal in 48 states.

Even though it's been rejected by pretty much every major body of mental health experts.

The American Psychological Association found that patients come out of conversion therapy with all sorts of psychological side effects:


And these are just the things I could fit on one gif.



My sarcasm detector is pinging off the charts right now.

It's not all bad news, though.

Exodus International, one of the leading proponents of conversion therapy, closed its doors in 2014 and issued an apology from their president for all the pain, suffering, and death that their "therapy" had caused (emphasis added):

"I am sorry for the pain and hurt that many of you have experienced. I am sorry some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt when your attractions didn't change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. I am sorry I didn't stand up to people publicly 'on my side' who called you names like sodomite—or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him, I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine.

More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God's rejection.

I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives."

But it's not enough for just one organization to shut down.

There are still organizations out there using these same horrifying methods in a futile attempt to "cure" something that can't be changed. There are still parents out there willing to subject their children to this — and people out there willing to subject themselves to it — because they're growing up in a society that tells them they're broken or wrong, but they're not.

Take it home, Laci:

The answer, of course, is zero more kids.

You can help end LGBTQ+ conversion therapy by signing this White House petition to enact Leelah's Law, named in honor of Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old trans girl who committed suicide in December 2014 after her parents pulled her out of school and forced her into conversion therapy.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Photo by R.D. Smith on Unsplash

Gem is living her best life.

If you've ever dreamed of spontaneously walking out the door and treating yourself a day of pampering at a spa without even telling anyone, you'll love this doggo who is living your best life.

According to CTV News, a 5-year-old shepherd-cross named Gem escaped from her fenced backyard in Winnipeg early Saturday morning and ended up at the door of Happy Tails Pet Resort & Spa, five blocks away. An employee at the spa saw Gem at the gate around 6:30 a.m. and was surprised when they noticed her owners were nowhere to be seen.

"They were looking in the parking lot and saying, 'Where's your parents?'" said Shawn Bennett, one of the co-owners of the business.

The employee opened the door and Gem hopped right on in, ready and raring to go for her day of fun and relaxation.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."