Jeremy Jordan's Teenage Cousin Sent to Ex-Gay Camp
During World War 2 gays were sent to concentration camps. It's hard to believe that something like that could possibly happen today in the US, but it actually does. This story comes from Jeremy Jordan, a rising star on TV (Supergirl, Smash), film (The Last Five Years), and Broadway (Newsies).
This week he has dedicated his twitter feed getting help for his teenage cousin, Sarah, who has been shipped off to an ex-gay camp in Texas after her parents freaked when she took her girlfriend to prom.
On Supergirl, Jeremy Jordan helps the Girl of Steel fight evil as tech genius Winn Schott. But in real life, he’s turning to the public to help save the day and rescue his cousin from the perils of ex-gay conversion.
On Facebook, Jordan revealed that his cousin Sarah has been shipped off to a facility in Texas “to help ’pray away the gay’ for a year with no communication to the outside world.”
Meet my cousin Sarah. At 17, her future looks bright. She is in the top 10% of her class, runs cross-country and belongs to the National Honor Society and the debate team. She is also gay. Like any high school kids in a relationship, Sarah and her girlfriend wanted to go to prom together. But when they did that, Sarah’s parents, who believe that homosexuality is a sin and abnormal, sent Sarah away against her will to an East Texas Christian boarding facility for troubled teens to “pray away the gay.”
Not only does this type of “therapy” not work, mental health professionals from organizations like the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have found it to be psychologically damaging, especially for minors... Instead of preparing for college and competing in the state debate tournament, she’ll be doing forced labor every day and enduring Bible-based “therapy” for her “disease.”
She is not allowed phone calls or email or any form of computer communication. She is also not allowed visitors and cannot leave the property. She is completely cut off from the outside world. She tried to run away, but was caught by the staff and returned to the facility.
Sarah’s extended family and close friends are trying to win her release through the legal system, but it’s not cheap. Attorney’s fees in the first few weeks have already exceeded $20,000, and they are continuing to mount, with a full hearing set for July. Sarah needs your help. But this is about more than just one gay kid – if we free Sarah we can help show that it’s not okay to try to make gay teens straight by sending them away and using the threat of God against them.
Spread the word so being gay doesn’t mean losing freedom for Sarah. #savesarah.
I have written before about some of my own experiences with Christian Ex-Gay ministries in the 1980's. A lot has changed since then and most of the largest organizations have folded over the years as it became crystal clear that no one ever really changed.
But still, there are small pockets that carry the banner for ex-gay conversion because once you accept that gays aren't just "broken heterosexuals", it's hard to avoid the conclusion that all sexual orientations deserve equal respect. And many fundamentalist religious people (whether they are Christian, Jewish, or Moslem) can't deal with the faith implications involved in admitting that a traditional belief is wrong.
Several states like California and New York have outlawed gay conversion therapy. Obviously, Texas is not one of those places.
While things are so much better for gay teenagers as a whole than they were when I was growing up, there are many places where children are still in danger.
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The New Civil Rights Movement has confirmed that the name of the facility is Heartlight Ministries Boarding School in Hallsville, Texas, which bills itself as “a destination for teens to heal and grow.”
Heartlight representatives couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
A court information sheet obtained by NCRM confirms that Sarah's aunt filed a lawsuit against the teen's parents in a state district court outside Austin on May 18. Sarah's aunt is represented by Christine Henry Andresen, an Austin-based family law attorney who specializes in LGBT issues.
"I can't comment on pending litigation, other than to authenticate that to the best of my knowledge, the background information on the GoFundMe shared by Sarah's cousin is truthful," Andresen told NCRM in a statement.
The court information sheet shows that Sarah's parents, as well as Heartlight Ministries, have been served with citations in connection with the lawsuit. On May 30, Sarah's parents filed a motion to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. And on Tuesday, they filed a motion to seal the court file. NCRM has requested copies of detailed records of the lawsuit from the local district clerk's office.
According to Heartlight Ministries' website, it was founded in 1988 by Mark and Jan Gregston, who previously were involved with Young Life, the non-denominational Christian ministry. In addition to operating the boarding school, Mark Gregston hosts the radio program "Parenting Today's Teens," which airs on 1,500 stations throughout North America.
Heartlight's boarding school provides "a safe haven of hope for 56 struggling teens at our residential counseling center," according to the website.
According to Joey Jordan's GoFundMe page, Sarah tried to leave the boarding school shortly after being placed there, but was apprehended by staff and later punished for the escape attempt. Then, when some of Sarah's friends drove to the facility in an effort to free her, local law enforcement threatened them with arrest.
Joey Jordan also noted that although 17-year-olds are considered adults for certain purposes in Texas, state law permits parents to force their children to stay in a residential boarding facility until their 18th birthday.
While some states have banned reparative therapy for minors, Texas isn't one of them. In fact, the Texas GOP added a plank to its platform in 2014 endorsing the discredited practice.
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Jeremy Jordan tweeted that Sarah has been released from the ex-gay camp in Texas.
Things got crazy today. Heartlight Ministries said Sarah wasn't there. Sarah's mother said that she was there, but not for ex-gay therapy. My guess is that Heartlight didn't like the spotlight shining on them and they expelled her.
I love how 'religion' always sticks in where it doesn't belong. The mention of 'gay or homosexual' doesn't even exist in the older translations of the bible. In fact it wasn't thought of before the 'king james' translation. There is no such in the bishop's bible. If people wanted to 'get along' as is often touted; then we would simply overlook each others' differences & Get Along. Sending someone to a place to be converted contrary to their will is wrong. Just Plain WRONG.
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Like people are fighting for gay marriage, meanwhile.... kids can be abducted by their parents and sent off to pseudo-science-religious-nut camp, and/or kicked out of their home completely without any legal recourse or consequences.
Last edited by srsly?; 10-01-2016 at 10:33 AM.
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My mother threatened me with conversion therapy but a quick retort of telling her I would run away and never speak to her again shut that down very quickly. But yes this is just wrong and if age of consent is 17 in Texas for other things teens should be have the right to emancipate themselves from a program like this at that age.
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