David pointed me to the Zach's blog. Zach is a 16 year old boy currently enrolled against his will in an "ex-gay" camp by his parents. I'm not going to rant about the whole ex-gay nonsense, either you know that it's a bunch of fundamentalist Christian brainwashing or, well, you're an idiot. Read the rules of the camp, posted on his blog. They're quite odd. On the whole, they speak for themselves, but I would point out that the camp clearly associates being gay with a lack of appropriately masculine traits and clothing in men (e.g. the need for short hair) and overly masculine ones in women (e.g. the requirement to shave their legs). What I find very disturbing is the requirement for social isolation: "clients" are prohibited from having any contact with anyone outside the household, whether friends or family; no non-prior-approved media is allowed, including faggy non-Christian classical music such as Beethoven or Bach; and one of the applicable punishment for rule-breaking is "isolation from the group." It all sounds very cultlike.
The really frustrating part is that I want to say that the parents are completely within their rights to do this. In a pluralistic society such as ours it is necessary that we allow families to raise children as they see fit. I don't even doubt that Zach's parents are doing what they think is best for him, in their own small-minded, poisonous way. The reason I feel that way is simple: the alternative could have the Texas state government removing kids from their gay parents for exposing them to "unhealty" lifesyles or somesuch.
That is, I did think that. I thought that until I read this quote, attributed to the head of the program, John Smid:
I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle. In a physical death you could still have a spiritual resurrection; whereas, returning to homosexuality you are yielding yourself to a spiritual death from which there is no recovery.
So we have an ex-gay camp that preaches to emotionally-vulnerable and probably emotionally-traumatized kids that they are better off dead than thinking they might be gay. That crosses the line from religious teachings and into abuse.
This is a common theme with religious groups. They are more interested in saving souls than saving lives. We see it every day with AIDS and prohibitions on teaching about condoms.
It's late and I don't want to write anymore, so I'll let stand what is probably a fairly incoherent rant. I just also want to say that I have some minor doubts about the legitimacy of Zach's blog. I am fairly sure, but not entirely convinced, that Zach is a real teenager. We will have to wait until after he gets out and see.
Oh, and we'll have to wait a bit longer than we thought to hear from Zach. His compulsory stay in the camp has just been extended from two weeks to eight.