Further Zach & LIA Update

Thanks to The Disenchanted Forest, Majikthise, Law Dork, aTypical Joe, and KipEsquire for their posts on this ongoing story, and for their links back here.

The Washington Blade has an editoral and a longer story than yesterday’s piece from ExpressGayNews, which includes this excerpt from an Exodus International representatives.

According to Julie Neils, spokesperson for Exodus International, an umbrella group for “ex-gay” projects, Love in Action’s Refuge program is the only project they are affiliated with that focuses on gay teens.

Love in Action has only offered services to adolescents for two years. Administrator Tommy Corman said that the program has treated 23 adolescents and that there are currently two teenage boys in the program, both signed up for six-week programs.

Corman confirmed that teens are sometimes forced to participate in the programs, but dismissed the idea that this is wrong.

“Youth camps, vacation bible school, Sunday school, how many places do parents put their children against their will,” Corman said. “It’s like when I tell my three-year-old to take a bite of broccoli. You have a legal, moral and ethical obligation to mold a child.”

Corman has worked at Love in Action for about a year and a half. He said that though the program advertises treatment for problems associated with drugs, alcohol and pornography, it is homosexuality, which the organization sees as a “deviant sexual behavior,” that is the main focus of the program. Corman said that some clients come to Love in Action after de-toxing from drugs to “heal” themselves of homosexuality.

Corman said that he has helped clients convince insurance companies to cover the costs of the program.

“Mold a child,” indeed. It appears drugs, alcohol and pornography are not the main focus of the program. Also, the lone licensed therapyist listed on Refuge’s website may be in violation of the American Counseling Association’s standards of ethics. ACA consider’s it a violation for members to practice outside of their fields, and the Refuge counselor is licensed as a drug and alcohol counselor, but may very be participating in the “reparative therapy” aspect of Refuge as well, based on his quotes in the article.

I think what’s most surprising here is that the program is sometimes covered by insurance programs. I’d be interested in knowing which insurers cover this program. My guess is that it’s billed as a treatment program for drugs and alcohol, and that the “reparative therapy” is played down in appealing to insurers, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s not the case and that insurers are knowingly covering “reparative therapy.” Some folks might want to find out if their insurers cover this kind of program and, if they do, encourage them to cease that practice. Sometimes a little consumer advocacy can go a long, long way.

As of yesterday, I’ve started getting the occasional comments about how Zach’s whole story “might be a hoax,” and suggestions that I and others should be more circumspect in what we say about it. Let me be clear about something. I’m not a journalist. I don’t claim to be one, because I don’t have the means or skills necessary to do in-depth investigation. In blogging about Zach’s story, one of the things I hoped to do was to help raise its profile to the point that people who are journalists would take notice of the story and bring their investigative resources and skills to it.

What the outcome of the investigation will be is anyone’s guess. What’s relatively certain is that the media coverage and investigation focuses attention on LIA that it would probably rather not have to deal with. Plus, LIA will be forced to dedicate time and resources to the investigation, so it will end up costing them and making their operations more difficult, no matter what the final outcome is.

Sunlight is said to be the best disenfectant, and I hope that shining a bit of it on “reparative therapy” programs like Refuge/Love in Action will make it more difficult for them to operate as usual and for kids to be subjected to their practices. In this case, it looks like it’s working.

About Terrance

Black. Gay. Father. Buddhist. Vegetarian. Liberal.
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14 Responses to Further Zach & LIA Update

  1. Peregrinato says:

    Just a professional note:

    Also, the lone licensed therapyist listed on Refuge’s website may be in violation of the American Counseling Association’s standards of ethics

    I’m not sure which therapist you’re talking about. I checked out the website, and there is a licensed drug addictions/substance abuse therapist. Licensing comes from a state; membership in the ACA is voluntary. As a counselor, I can be a member of ACA, or AAMFT at my choice, or AAPC (Pastoral Counseling) which is my preference. While violating a voluntary professional group’s ethics are certainly not to be excused, that won’t necessarily affect licensure. He might be a member of a Christian Counseling organization which would allow reparative therapy. I doubt strongly that the code of ethics dealing with addictions/substance abuse covers reparative therapy.

    Just an FYI, and I offer the caveat I may be wrong about his affiliation, etc. I’m only speaking from experience.

  2. KipEsquire says:

    I too was concerned about the “hoax” potential, but if there were no “Zach” there, then would Refuge race to say so and avoid the publicity?

  3. Terrance says:

    It seems that way to me, too. All reports are that they would not confirm that he was there. Of course, they didn’t deny it either. It seems like if he wasn’t there, LIA would have said so in hopes of making the story go away.

  4. KipEsquire says:

    …that should have read “then wouldn’t Refuge race to say so…”

    And if you care (and there’s no reason why you should), the quote “Sunlight is the best disenfectant” comes from the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” Olmstead v. United States, 1928.

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  7. deadantstomp says:

    “According to Julie Neils, spokesperson for Exodus International, an umbrella group for “ex-gay” projects, Love in Action’s Refuge program is the only project they are affiliated with that focuses on gay teens.”

    Did anyone else read this and instantly think that they are running more of these camps somewhere out there? If they don’t have them off the ground yet, you can bet they are in the works.

    and having had the unfortunate chance to attend a love won out conference, I would argue that most, if not all of these projects are primarily targeted directly at gay teens and their parents, but are there other residential programs?

  8. rea says:

    A hoax? It’s a very complcated hoax, with lots of corroboration, if so. But re-read the following:

    “Love in Action has only offered services to adolescents for two years. Administrator Tommy Corman said that the program has treated 23 adolescents and that there are currently two teenage boys in the program, both signed up for six-week programs.”

    You know, it doesn’t realy matter whether the cute teenager whse blog we read really exists. There are, by the program’s own acknowledgement, 2 “Zacks” in their custody.

  9. neilemac says:

    “Love in Action” is not only an oximoron, but fails miserably in it’s music rules for listening. Considering “LIN” is a religious backed endeavour, Rule: No secular music. Bach and Beethoven are expressly mentioned as not being religious music. Why do I believe them culturly deprived and ignorant? Here’s proof. Cloning humans is illegal so please “Love in Action,” stop trying to clone nazis out of our gay teens! Life is prison enough for a gay kid midst the bigotry and profound insensitivity of the so called “norm” within the conditioned populace. Before and since coming out at the 2nd Pride Day in honour of the ’69 riot “Stonewall” in NYC, but in Boston,1970. My own experience is all the proof I need to want to lend my voice to further the cause in aid of Zach and freedom of all gay teens everywhere from the bondage of hypocrisy.

  10. Terrance says:

    Bach not religious? Obviously they haven’t heard “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” Then again, maybe is the “joy of man’s desiring,” that gives them trouble.

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  12. E-Rock says:

    Wow someone who isn’t a reporter reporting about a counselor who may or may not be counseling a person who may or may not exist. I love the blogosphere!

  13. Terrance says:

    Actually, I wasn’t so much reporting as I was summarizing context of the article I linked in my post, with my take on it added to the mix.

    If I kept my point of view out of it, I might as well not post anything but a link the article. That’s not blogging. I don’t know what it is (aggregating?), but it’s not blogging to me.

    One of the great things about blogging — when it’s done well — is that you don’t have to take the blogger’s word for it. You can go directly to the source by clicking on the link and reading it for yourself.

  14. E-Rock says:

    That’s true, and I don’t begrudge you the right to blog whatever and however you want. I just found the vagueness of the situation funny.

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