Banning conversion therapy step towards equality

Roland Along - Mitchell Roland

Highline professor and counselor Joshua Magallanes is one of many people who are excited that conversion therapy was recently banned in Washington state.

Conversion therapy is a practice that attempts to change the sexual orientation of someone from being gay, lesbian or bisexual to heterosexual. There is no scientific evidence that it works, and it can often lead to the person needing real counseling to overcome their experience.

During the last session, the Washington State legislature banned conversion therapy for anyone under 18 years of age.

Magallanes called the practice "ridiculous," but he said he is always willing to hear people out and listen to why they think it is a good idea.

But one thing that Magallanes does not know is how one person being gay and lesbian or bisexual will affect someone else.

 "If I am gay, that that is going to affect them in some way?" he asked.

Conversion therapy is something that is "challenging to even think about," said Magallanes, and likened it to trying to change someone from being heterosexual to gay and lesbian.

Magallanes said that he believes the driver behind conversion therapy is "fear of the unknown."

"Fear moves us in all kinds of directions," said Magallanes.

While "people can be tolerant upfront," Magallanes said that they can often have more trouble being accepting behind the scenes.

If someone thinks that they might be gay or lesbian, Magallanes said that the best thing that they can do is talk about their feelings and ask questions. If they need assistance, he said he is available and that there are also various organizations to assist.

"It's about exploring what we don't know about ourselves," he said.

Magallanes said that he thinks Highline is a welcoming place, but that there are still things that need to be done to make it more open to all.

"I think Highline needs to continue to do work," he said.

For starters, Magallanes said that human sexuality is a class that needs to be offered every quarter at Highline, not just periodically.

Magallanes also said that staff on campus should do a better job supporting people.

"Faculty really needs to step up," Magallanes said.

Magallanes also said that the ban should be going one step further, and it shouldn't just be a statewide ban.

"I don't think we should have conversion therapy as a whole," Magallanes said.

Several other states are currently considering similar bans on conversion therapy.

Mitchell Roland is the opinion editor of the Thunderword.

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