Tonight, ABC will air a 20/20 report on gay conversation therapy camps around the U.S., where parents send their kids in attempt to exorcise them of their same-sex attraction. If that already sounds abusive—keeping in mind that so-called “reparative therapy” has been denounced as at least unnecessary by a laundry list of medical, health, and medical health organizations—well, the concept, ain’t even the half of it. Here’s a preview of the yearlong investigation:
The clip includes hidden-camera footage in the Blessed Hope Boys Academy of Alabama, which has serious Red State vibes (in fact, the subject of reparative therapy seems ripe for a horror film), as well as a screaming confrontation with William Knott, a self-described pastor, who reportedly had names for the belts he beat his subjects with at the camp he ran. Knott was sentenced to 20 years in prison in February for aggravated child abuse.
The report also features an interview with Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, a supporter of conversion therapy. “I certainly hope that this administration will pull back from some of the aggressive activism that the Obama administration engaged in,” says Sprigg. His hope is not unfounded given Vice President Mike Pence’s advocacy of directing resources “toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior” on his congressional campaign website in 2000.
ABC News followed up with Pence regarding this point:
Asked about the campaign language, a spokesman for Pence said, after publication of this story, that Pence was calling for federal funds to “be directed to groups that promoted safe sexual practices” and said “any assertion that Vice President-elect Pence supported or advocated for conversion therapy is patently false and is a mischaracterization of language from a 16-year-old campaign website.”