Liberty University, an evangelical institution in the state of Virginia, faces turmoil after former students filed a lawsuit against the US Board of Education for allowing so-called conversion therapy and other discriminatory practices against LGBTQI+ individuals to occur in schools receiving public funding.

One of the plaintiffs is Lucas Wilson, who for four years underwent Liberty University’s so-called gender conversion therapy. Toronto-born Wilson wants to put an end to American universities’ ability to disseminate homophobic thought with the US taxpayers’ dime.

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“It is mind-boggling to me that these schools receive billions of dollars every year from taxpayers, yet are somehow still allowed to discriminate against queer students on a daily basis. I hope that this lawsuit forces these colleges to choose: either treat LGBTQI+ students fairly, equally and with dignity or find another way to finance their homophobia,” Wilson told Star Observer.

Four Years Of Torment

Lucas Wilson attended Liberty University from 2008 to 2012 and was put into contact with the university’s gender conversion programme shortly after enrolling.

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After a romantic encounter with a male tutor, Lucas reached out to Dane Emerick, a pastor responsible for the therapy programme. Through praying sessions and weekly inventory of his sexual in/activity, Wilson found the conversion therapy influencing his behavior and day-to-day life drastically.

“Conversion therapy pushed me to perform and act inauthentically; Dane pushed us to act ‘more masculine’ and to do activities that were ‘more manly’. Because of conversion therapy, I consistently self-monitored how I walked, talked and sat. Due to this, I was constantly anxious and constantly trying to see if my gender expression was aligned with how I was expected to act,” he said.

This went on for Lucas’ full four years of enrollment at Liberty University. Now, the Canadian hopes for justice and that no other queer person will ever have to go through what he did during his time at the American university.

“I want to do my best to ensure that what happened to me does not happen to anyone else at religious colleges or universities. My experience has allowed me to speak against such homophobia that runs so rampant on Liberty’s campus and schools’ campuses like LU, and I want to continue this work by way of the lawsuit,” Wilson added.

 

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

 

 

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