Teen Escapes Pray-Away-the-Gay 'Boarding School' After Relatives Raise Money for Lawyer

Human Rights

Seventeen-year-old Sarah is in the top 10 percent of her class. She runs cross-country and belongs to the National Honor Society and is on the debate team. But when she decided to take her girlfriend to her Texas prom, her parents sent her away for the next year to an East Texas Christian boarding facility for troubled teens hoping they would “pray away the gay.”

Sarah was taken against her will and tried to escape the facility once, “but was caught by the staff and returned to the facility,” a GoFundMe page set up by her extended family describes, according to BoingBoing.

The extended family who set up the GoFundMe page acted quickly, hiring an attorney and working to ensure Sarah would be released as soon as possible. They wrote that she was not “allowed phone calls or email or any form of computer communication.” Nor was she allowed visitors. She had no way of knowing that work was being done to save her from the boarding facility.

So far the page doesn’t include any details about the legal battle, but they assure the donors they will update as soon as they speak to the attorney and to Sarah. Luckily, she was released from the facility, and the GoFundMe has turned off the donations for now as they wait for further instructions about what is needed.

If she hadn’t been released, Sarah would have been forced to spend the year “isolated in a place where the fact that she is gay is treated as a sin and an illness,” the extended family wrote. “Instead of preparing for college and competing in the state debate tournament, she'[d] be doing forced labor every day and enduring Bible-based ‘therapy’ for her ‘disease.'”

So-called “reparative therapy” has been labeled by the American Psychological Association as harmful to anyone forced to suffer under it, but especially to minors.

“Homosexuality is not a mental disorder and the APA opposes all portrayals of lesbian, gay and bisexual people as mentally ill and in need of treatment due to their sexual orientation,” the APA says.

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