Supergirl actor Jeremy Jordan is raising money to help save his gay teen cousin, Sarah, from a so-called “pray the gay away” camp, WFAA (Dallas) is reporting.
Jordan’s 17-year-old cousin, identified only as “Sarah,” is gay. That hasn’t sat well with her parents — they sent her to a Christian residential boarding facility, one that specializes is what is known as “gay conversion therapy,” or sometimes, “pray the gay away” treatment.
Now, the teenager has become the center of a dispute between her parents, who believe that she has a disease that needs to be forcibly “cured” and are within their religious rights to do so, and her aunt and cousin, who believe she is being given damaging “treatment” against her will.
Sarah’s cousin, the 31-year-old Jordan, has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to battle it out in court.
“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.’ “
At the facility, Sarah is not allowed to make or receive phone calls, send or receive mail, access the internet, or have any visitors; she is completely cut off from the outside world. She has already tried once to run away from the camp — she was caught by camp staff and forcibly returned.
Sarah’s aunt has filed a lawsuit to get Sarah freed from the camp, and has hired a high-powered LGBTQ-rights attorney, Christine Andresen, to advocate on her behalf as the lawsuit winds its way through the courts.
And while Sarah and her cousin Jeremy appear to have plenty of supporters on their side, not everyone is on board with the idea of removing a minor child from treatment her parents have authorized for her.
Patrick Von Dohlen, president of the San Antonio Family Association, an agency that advocates for self-proclaimed Christian values, says that Sarah needs the treatment, and it is her parents’ right to see that she gets it.
“It’s for [her] own protection and good. In this case, it’s natural for her to like boys. It’s not natural for her to like girls. [The suit is] going to cost them money that actually harms the young woman from getting the care and treatment she needs.”
So-called “gay conversion therapy,” also referred to as “pray the gay away” therapy or “ex-gay” therapy, is a hotly-debated topic. Supporters say that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice that can be “cured” through prayer and therapy, and insist that the practice is a form of religious expression that is protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion.
Opponents of the practice, such as the gay-rights advocacy organization Human Rights Campaign, say that there is no psychological basis for the notion that homosexuality is a choice or that it can be “cured.” Further, opponents insist that the practice of “reparative therapy” is actually damaging to the individual, and have advocated for the practice to be banned.
— SXT Health CIC (@SXTHealthCIC) May 30, 2016
In fact, “gay conversion therapy” on minors is banned in Vermont, California, New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, and the District of Columbia. The practice remains legal in Texas, where Sarah lives.
As of this writing, Jeremy Jordan’s GoFundMe page to raise money for Sarah’s legal costs has raised over $58,000, short of its goal of $100,000.
[Image via Shutterstock/Brett Jorgensen]