By Rachel Gobep
David Beavers, a sophomore social work major at Youngstown State University, conducted research this semester on the dangers of conversion therapy on LGBTQ+ individuals. This form of therapy refers to the practice that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Beavers said there are protections in some states that ban the practice of conversion therapy entirely, but it still exists in some parts of the United States.
“Some states only ban the practice on minors, [but] still allow it to be performed on adults. Ohio is one of those states,” he said.
Beavers, who is an armed forces veteran and a gay male, said he believes Americans should have the right to live their life however they choose to.
“I had the privilege to speak with others in the LGBT community, both locally and abroad, who unfortunately were put through the practice of conversion therapy during their life,” he said. “The horrific stories they told me had me in disbelief.”
He said he could not believe practices such as electroshock therapy or forcing a person to bathe in ice cold water until they couldn’t feel their sexual organs or starvation could still exist in America.
“After hearing about this psychological and physical abuse, I decided to further research the topic,” Beavers said.
Through his research, Beavers said he found shocking facts.
“Research conducted by various agencies found that conversion therapy is often ineffective, treating homosexuality as a mental illness, when it is not recognized as one,” he said. “Individuals who underwent conversion therapy are put at an increased risk for other serious illnesses.”
According to research conducted at San Francisco State University on the issue of family acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth, those who were rejected by their parents or caregivers were more than eight times as likely to have attempted suicide and six times as likely to report high levels of depression than those who were not rejected or partially rejected.
They were also more than three times as likely to use illegal drugs and to be at high risk for HIV and STDs.
He said he believes further education on conversion therapy is important “to prevent discrimination and encourage tolerance of others that are not like us.”
Beavers said students and young adults need to learn from the mistakes of previous generations and encourage acceptance.
“The senseless persecution of any group of people is unethical and immoral, for we are all Americans, living in the land of the free,” he said.
Beavers said he forwarded his paper to the Ohio House of Representatives for proposed legislation.
“Ultimately, my goal for my paper’s submission … is to have the practice of conversion therapy entirely banned from the state of Ohio,” he said. “It is my fear that as long as the practice exists in Ohio, there is the potential for both juveniles and other LGBT individuals to be coerced or forced to undergo this horrific practice.”
He said although there are Ohio laws that protect juveniles, the law should be broadened to protect all Ohioans.
Melissa McKenney, manager of financial aid programs and English instructor, said Beavers took her Writing 2 class online. She said his paper was organized and thoroughly researched.
“He presented a well-supported argument that not only offered a great deal of factual information and statistical data, but effectively employed the audience appeals of logos, ethos and pathos,” McKenney said. “Through these methods, David was able to create an educated and convincing proposal argument that left no doubt of the need to eliminate conversion therapy as an accepted medical practice.”
She said she had more interaction with Beavers than some students she has taught in a classroom setting.
“He was very diligent and timely, always wanting to ensure that he was understanding the course content clearly, and completing assignments properly and thoroughly,” McKenney said.
She said students who utilize the English 1551 course as an opportunity to research topics that interest them to expand their own education “truly make teaching on this level a joy each semester.”
“It was a pleasure assisting David these last 16 weeks on his writing and research journey,” McKenney said.