“We know that when a young person is told they can't go to therapy to really support who they are that has really detrimental effects,” Stultz said. “Imagine being told that some really important part of yourself isn't valid, isn't important, isn't respected. That has huge impacts on how we view ourselves and our self-worth.”
But conversion therapy is destructive, Stultz said.
“Conversion therapy is banned in the City of Cincinnati and there's a reason that it's banned. We know it harms young people,” Stultz said.
Yokoyama says conversion therapy should be banned nationwide.
“We need it to have real implications — something that will keep someone from trying to access conversion therapy or more importantly practice conversion therapy,” Yokoyama said.
Both experts said breaking down barriers to open communication is critical and there are resources available to help.
“There's things like PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of Greater Cincinnati) and GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) which both work with families and young people that are LGBTQ,” said Stultz.
Education is the key that unlocks understanding for both parents and children, they said.
“There's so much misinformation about being trans out there. Try to fine reputable sources,” said Yokoyama. “If you're in the Cincinnati area there are a lot of great organizations that can help you out — from Children's Hospital to Heartland Trans Wellness - the group that I run … Lighthouse Youth Services, more than that as well.”
According to the JFS complaint, a therapist told the teen's father in October 2016 that the teen lacks "the coping skills to manage the home situation," prompting his mother to send an email saying she and her husband would seek a Christian therapist.
The teen's parents halted therapy at the hospital late last year but then resumed it because of his anxiety and depression.
The teen tried to read a letter to his parents during a meeting at Children's Hospital in December 2016, prompting his mother to stand up, point a finger at him, and scream, "You're a liar," according to the complaint.
The teen began shaking and curled up into "the fetal position," the complaint says.
Thursday’s court hearing lasted all day without a decision and will continue on Dec. 14.