You may or may not remember my diary from January about an incredible young man, Jacob Rudolph of Parsippany, New Jersey. If you don't, Jacob went viral on the Internet toward the beginning of the year for doing something I could have never imagined doing in high school: coming out as gay at a school assembly. If you didn't catch that video, please do watch:
Well, Jacob is back. And he's still incredible. Follow me below the fold to find out why.
After the above video went viral, Jacob started a change.org petition to urge Governor Chris Christie to support a bill similar to the one passed in California not too long ago, which prohibits licensed professionals from practicing "ex-gay" conversion therapy. The petition really says it all:
Major psychological, psychiatric, and counseling associations have found this ineffective and scientifically unsound practice to be harmful for young people. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association has concluded that a great risk of depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior result from anti-gay conversion therapy.Well, on Monday, Jacob took a trip to Trenton with Garden State Equality to testify before the New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee in support of S2278, which would do just what Jacob calls for in his petition. The full video is below, but perhaps this sums it all up:
According to the CDC and the Trevor Project, lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. And, that number doubles to 8 times more likely if LGB youth come from families that reject the child's sexual orientation.
I'm incredibly lucky to have parents who love me just the way I am, which is why it hurts me to know that, every single day, kids across the state are forced to lie or feel shame about who they really are, for fear of being rejected by their families and friends or forced to be subjected to harmful “therapy” intended to fix what is not broken.
I am not broken. I am not confused. I do not need to be fixed.Indeed, anybody who has seen the above video knows Jacob doesn't need to be "fixed." He's quite an amazing young man just as he is.
This excerpt is also powerful:
What disturbs me the most is that our government would allow orientation-conversion organizations to subject children to such so-called therapy. It is hard enough for LGBT teens to accept that their sexual orientation differentiates them from their classmates. Consequentially, I cannot fathom how emotionally scarring it must be for these kids to be told they are somehow broken and are then manipulated to reject their innate sexual preference and ‘become’ heterosexual again. What strikes me as the most cruel facet of this practice is that these young people cannot defend themselves from being subjected to this harmful practice.The entire testimony is definitely worth watching:
The committee, by the way, passed the bill, 7-1. Here's hoping New Jersey is the next state to send this disgusting practice to the dustbin of history.