By Gabriel Wiest– 

A representative from a national gay rights organization warned their audience about conversion therapy at a Jan. 14 speech at the Floyd Theater.

Sam Brinton, the head of advocacy and government affairs of The Trevor Project, had an audience of over 75 people. Students, faculty and a state representative heard Brinton’s arguments against conversion therapy.

Brinton explained the psychological and physical abuse they have suffered.

Brinton said 60 percent of youths that are in conversion therapy will attempt suicide.  They said 700,000 people have gone through this process.

“We have had conversations with a variety of mental health professionals, religious leaders, other legislators, all on the idea that no matter who you are you can agree that we should not be harming children with quack science,” Brinton said.

One Kentucky legislator working to end conversion therapy is State Rep. Lisa Willner, representing district 35.

“I am working in partnership with Trevor Project on the bill, and we are waiting on legal consultation to make sure the bill goes as far as it possibly can,” Willner said.

Willner said, “As a licensed psychologist, and as the first psychologist ever elected into the Kentucky legislature, I am really grounded in science and in ethics. So the science of conversion therapy is bad science pure and simple–it doesn’t work.”

Brinton said, “It happens at every age, we know a lot of college students are at risk for conversion therapy.”

They added a good way to react to someone thinking about committing themselves to conversion therapy. “It is really important to say ‘I affirm you as you are,’ and that ‘I may not necessarily understand all of the different pieces about sexual orientation and gender identity but I want you to know you are welcome here,” Brinton said.

Briton told the audience the best way to get their voices heard on the issue is to contact their state legislature.

Photo by Joseph Garcia/ The Louisville Cardinal