It’s finally happened. The state of Tennessee is ordering Love In Action/Refuge (LIA/R) to shut down it’s “reparative therapy” facilities.
The state Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities has ordered the closing of what it calls two unlicensed personal care facilities run by a Christian group that counsels gays to give up homosexuality.
The state inspected two facilities in Memphis on Aug. 19 and determined Love In Action International Inc. was providing housing, meals and personal care for mentally ill patients without a license, according to a subsequent letter to the organization from the Department of Mental Health.
The department gave Love In Action until Sept. 23 to cease operation of the facilities and apply for a state license.
…If the organization were to continue operating the facilities past the Sept. 23 deadline, it would face criminal penalties that include fines of up to $500 and six months in jail for each day the facilities are determined to be in violation of state laws, Potter said.
Of course, it’s not over yet. As of yesterday LIA/R was still in operation, and they have until Friday to shut down and apply for a license. So we’ll have to wait and see how this unfolds.
Meanwhile, Peter Toscano — a former LIA/R client — has an interesting post up about how LIA/R president John Smid is apparently a minister in his own mind, but not much more.
But John Smid never attended seminary. In fact, the highest degree he holds is a high school diploma. He was handed the title of “Rev.” by Germantown Baptist Church.
John Smid, who never took psych 101 or any college-level counseling course, denounces the American Psychiartic Association’s professional assessment of homosexuality. Not only has he been running a mental health facility without a license, he has done so without the training.
John Smid, who never attended seminary or even audited an undergraduate Bible class, publically expounds on what the Bible has to say about same-gender loving people and false images.
Peter’s seen LIA/R from the inside, so I’m guessing he knows whereof he speaks.
I have to admit, I’m astounded at the possibility that what started as a few blog posts by a scared teenager grew into a blogswarm and then into a media story, and could possibly close down this facility. I’m glad I could play whatever role I might have had in it. Twice now, as a blogger, I’ve been able to play a small role in helping bring media attention to stories that might have otherwise been neglected; Rashawn’s and Zach’s.
Of course, blogging only helps spread the story around, but it can also help move people to action. As Zach’s story spread around the web, more and more people heard it, and some of the took the action of blogging it themselves, alerting their media to the story. As a result, some people got on the phone to the Tennessee Department of Health, and starting the balls rolling in the investigations that just might end up shutting the place down.
Though it’s entirely likely that LIA/R will claim victim status if it’s actually forced to close, and that they might remain open or find a way of reopening if forced to close, I still count this as something of a victory, in terms of using the web to shed light on operations like LIA/R, and to force a change in the way they operate. And because it’s happened once, it can happen again. So, maybe it’s created the possibility that some other gay teenager somewhere might escape having his/her psyche mauled by operations like LIA/R. If so, then it’s definitely worth it.
Via Gay News Blog.