GLAAD, NCLR, and Born Perfect kick off 16-week conversion therapy awareness campaign

Conversion therapy - attempts to change sexual orientation or gender identity - is going to feature very prominently in the news and pop culture in the coming months. While legislation continues to work its way through state legislatures, two new films spotlighting dangerous, extreme anti-LGBTQ conversion therapy will bring this important issue to much wider audiences.

Beginning today, and continuing through the fall, GLAAD is teaming up with NCLR (National Center for Lesbian Rights) and their Born Perfect campaign, to drive awareness about conversion therapy. For the next 16 weeks, we’ll be locking arms together to share information on our websites and social media accounts about the topic. You’ll learn facts and myths about conversion therapy, as well as see content from both of these upcoming films and gain information about what you can do to educate yourself and others.

Every major medical and mental health organization - including the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, and American Psychiatric Association - have denounced conversion therapy as both harmful and ineffective. Conversion therapy has been shown to lead to increased depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and even suicide.

Conversion therapy can take many forms. While some “counselors” still use physical treatments like aversive conditioning (electric shocks, nausea induction, or orgasmic reconditioning, amongst other methods), the techniques most commonly used include a variety of behavioral, cognitive, psychoanalytic, and other practices that try to change or reduce same-sex attraction or alter a person’s gender identity. These methods could occur during talk therapy with a therapist or in so-called “conversion therapy camps,” where LGBTQ youths are isolated from their families. Conversion therapy camps feature prominently in the plots of both The Miseducation of Cameron Post and Boy Erased.

Coming out first in early August from FilmRise (Aug. 3rd in NYC, Aug. 10th wider release) is The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which won the U.S. dramatic grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival this past winter. Starring Chloë Grace Moretz, John Gallagher Jr., Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck, and Jennifer Ehle, the adaption of Emily M. Danforth’s 2012 novel follows Moretz’s lead character as she’s sent to a conversion therapy camp after being caught by her parents with her girlfriend in the back seat of her parent’s car on prom night. Adapted and directed by Desiree Akhavan, the film infuses humor as a coping mechanism to diffuse the pain the lead characters experience.

On November 2nd, Focus Features will release Boy Erased, based on Garrard Conley’s book “Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family.” Adapted and directed by Joel Edgerton, the film features Lucas Hedges as Conley, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe as his parents, as well as Cherry Jones, Troye Sivan, Michael “Flea” Balzary, and Xavier Dolan in supporting roles. When the 19-year-old protagonist admits to his parents that, “I think about men. I don’t know why,” he is faced with an ultimatum that so many young LGBTQ people face: Attend a conversion-therapy program or be permanently exiled by his family and shunned by his friends and loved ones.


Both of these films are going to drive important conversations about this sometimes fatal practice, which is now banned in 14 states and the District of Columbia in order to protect LGBTQ youth. California was the first state to enact a ban on the practice (in 2012) and was followed soon thereafter by New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Oregon, Illinois, and Vermont. In New York, state regulations bar New York insurers from providing coverage for the practice of conversion therapy on minors. In recent years, New Mexico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Nevada, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, and New Hampshire have also banned the practice, with Delaware following suit just this past Monday.

NCLR is available to provide support and assistance to advocates who are seeking to enact such laws across the country. You can learn more facts about conversion therapy on NCLR's website. If you would like to help to enact a similar law in your state, please contact #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator & Youth Policy Counsel Carolyn Reyes at BornPerfect@NCLRights.org.