Zach Update: Love In Action Investigated

Holy Cow. I’ve been blogging about Zach’s story for almost two weeks, and the latest news just about knocked me off my feet. Word is that Love In Action — the place that runs the camp Zach is attending — is under investigation for allegations of child abuse.

The state of Tennessee has begun an investigation in response to allegations of child abuse at Love in Action, a Memphis facility that advertises homosexual conversion therapy for adolescents, according to the state department of health.

K. Daniele Edwards, a spokesperson for Child Services at the Tennessee Department of Health, confirmed an investigation is underway but declined to comment on the details. She noted that she presumes the Love in Action program would require licensing by the state.

Love in Action is not licensed by the Tennessee Departments of Health, Mental Health, Human Services, Child Services or Education, according to Rachel Lassiter of Gov. Phil Bredesen’s communications office.

Refuge, Love in Action’s program for adolescents, became the focus of public concern earlier this month after a Bartlett, Tenn., teen who uses the blogger name Zach, posted online entries that say his parents had responded to his coming out as gay by sending him to a religious institution to be converted to heterosexuality.

The spokesperson for the Tennessee Child Services department goes on to say that it’s difficult to prove emotional abuse, and it’s hard to know whether a conservative state like Tennessee will tend to favor LIA of not, but it looks like an important step has been taken, hopefully one that will draw attention to the reality of places like this and the damage that they do.

If you ask me, subjecting a kid to the kind of psychological warfare and identity assault that this program sounds like ought to be considered child abuse.

One thing’s certain, this is a direct result of the attention Zach’s story got on the blogs, and the action and press attention that blogs generated.

Update: Whew, now that I’m home, I’ve been able see where else the story is being covered. At least one Tennessee news station is covering the investigation. The New York Blade has a story identical to ExpressGayNews story, as does Southern Voice and the Washington Blade. There’s also a post on The Empty Closet.

I’ll post more links as I find them.

About Terrance

Black. Gay. Father. Buddhist. Vegetarian. Liberal.
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15 Responses to Zach Update: Love In Action Investigated

  1. rea says:

    Maybe easier to show than child abuse is the fact that the program isn’t licensed, and wouldn’t be licensed under any reasoanble standard. These people are practicing clinical psychology without a license, and doing it badly.

  2. Otto says:

    its great what you are doing for this kids. I support you to my 100% keep up the good work. together we will be able to close LIA

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  4. Terrance says:

    Rea: I agree with you that they wouldn’t be licensed under any reasonable standard, but they also have the shield of religion to hide behind. My guess is that they would claim they don’t need a license to practice religion-based therapy. I don’t know how true that would be, however.

  5. EJ Friedman says:

    There are several ways to go after this one particular arm of this program, if one does not work another will be tried. I think LIA/R can sense the bull’s-eye on their chest, now’s when their acting job begins.

    If you know anyone who is a licensed therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist in the State of Tennessee (licensed in the state that is), please make sure they contact the department doing the investigation.

    Thank you to everyone (especially Terrance) for listening to my little blog and the blogs of my acquaintances here in Memphis. You have no idea what it means to us all.

  6. Terrance says:

    E.J., thanks to you and all the others for doing such a great job keeping track of what’s going on!

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  9. Joel says:

    Zach is gone.
    I clicked for his myspace account, which has been featured in articles, and this is what I got:

    Invalid Friend ID.
    This user has either cancelled their membership, or their acccount has been deleted.

  10. Terrance says:

    Zach’s not gone. At least, his account isn’t gone. His MySpace blog is still right here. His profile is still right here.

  11. rea says:

    “His profile is still right here.”

    “I’m the one you will always dream of,” his profile says. I don’t think the nightmares I’ve been having about being a teenager caught in a reeducation program like LIA were what he had in mind, though . . .

  12. Mark says:

    6/24/05

    Hi, all!

    I would like to share with you a copy of my 6/19/05 post to Zach’s blog at MySpace:

    6/19/05

    Hi, Zach!

    Greetings from Mark in New York City!

    I learned about your story from Planet Out.

    http://www.planetout.com/news/article.html?date=2005/06/16/1

    The story brought back to mind the time in the early 1990s that my mother found out that I was gay by having read a handwritten draft of some personal ad copy that I had indiscreetly left lying on my desk.

    When she hit me with her discovery, I denied it loud and long! (I figured that it was none of her business, and that confirming it would be even more upsetting to her. What’s she doing, picking up papers on my desk, and reading them? How rude!!!) I said that I had actually written it for a friend who was gay and who was looking to meet someone. I even got other friends to confirm that lie, but she didn’t believe it.

    She demanded that I go see a psychiatrist, and said that she would pay for the sessions. Well, wanting to humor her, but not wanting to take any chances of falling into the clutches of a “deprogrammer,” I picked out the name of a gay psychiatrist from the listings in one of the gay newspapers.

    After about ten sessions, I asked the psychiatrist to call my mother and have a discussion with her. Of course, she wanted to know whether I was really gay. He told her that he’s not permitted to confirm or deny it, but that he has gay patients, that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them, and that homosexuality was removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of illnesses over twenty years ago.

    So, my mother decided that the psychiatric sessions weren’t helping me, and she said to stop going. Since that time, she hasn’t brought the subject up again.

    Zach, when you started writing your blog, you obviously had no idea that it would be generating such publicity.

    One of my friends from New York City, a fellow named Paul, used to work in the clubhouse of the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. He was fired, and he later filed a lawsuit. Rather serious allegations were made by both sides. He ultimately lost — but his story, in a manner similar to yours, received quite a bit of publicity — well, notoriety, actually, I guess. You can read it at:

    http://www.yanks-suck.com

    Once you get to the above Webpage, just scroll down to the story which has the word “Steamroom” in the title.

    I’m not sure what advice to give you, except to say, “Hang in there! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you! Your parents, along with my mother, were all absolute idiots for having wasted their money trying to change what cannot be changed, and what shouldn’t even be changed!”

    Zach, perhaps when you’ve finished high school, you’ll be able to leave Memphis and go to college in a more liberal city such as New York City, San Francisco, or Los Angeles. Who knows — maybe you’d even want to uproot and make a permanent move?

    I subscribed to your blog, and will be following your story. Keep everyone up-to-date as soon as you’re able to.

    Best regards from the Big Apple!

    Mark

  13. ShadowLor says:

    do you have any advice on how to get the story into more newspapers?

  14. Jaclyn says:

    Hey, look, they’re being investigated again. This investigation should turn out better. It will be much easier to show wrongdoing. http://www.washblade.com/2005/7-1/news/national/tenopen.cfm

  15. Bill Courson says:

    Zach (and friends): I came out to loving and accepting parents in 1966, at the age of 14. Their support was critical in helping me to be the man I am today; a proud, healthy, 52-year old “gay middleager” who looks forward to becoming a “gay elder.”

    I am truly sorry to the point of heartbreak that you do not have the advantage of a loving family (though by their own pathetically misinformed and misguided standards, they may think themselves acting in your best interest). But, as was not the case in 1966, you have countless thousands (actually, that’s probably more like millions) of “friends you have never met” who will help you weather through the hell in which your family has placed you.

    As you find yourself faced with the horrors thrown in your way by the Christian cultists who now – temporarily – control your environment, remember this: though it is an unpleasant process, it will be neither unbearable nor will it last forever. You are right, and they are all wrong. You will be rewarded in the end, and they will be punished, if only by making their self-immersed cultic agenda appear even more stupid and evil than it alreadfy does.

    As you are approaching the age of 18 (and hence, your individual freedom) and college age, I hope that you will avail yourself of the opportunities afforded you by a supportve gay community, one of which deserves special mention.

    I refer to the “Point Foundation” (http://www.thepointfoundation.org)
    which provides academic college scholarships for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender) who have been abandoned by or repudiated by their families and have thus lost economic support for their college studies.

    I have no doubt that your “jailers” are keeping you from accessing your internet e-mail account (these are the book-burners of only a few generations past), but do hope you will be able to avail yourself of suc communication in the very near future.

    Take care of yourself, and know that you are in our prayers.

    And remember: The right will prevail, and love will win.

    Bright Blessings,
    Bill Courson

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