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The Miseducation of Cameron Post is must-see film for social workers

text: Miseducation of Cameron Post, with Chloe Moretz in background

movie poster

Elizabeth Felton, JD, LICSW, is an attorney at the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Legal Defense Fund who often helps write legal briefs to oppose the emotionally damaging practice of conversion therapy for people who are LGBT.

But even Felton said she learned much from the film The Miseducation of Cameron Post about what LGBT youth experience when forced to undergo ineffective therapy to turn them into heterosexuals.

“I’m really glad about this movie because when you hear about conversion therapy you don’t know what it entails,” said Felton, who joined a screening of the film on August 30 at NASW headquarters in Washington, D.C. “NASW supports banning conversion therapy, but to actually see it brings it home. It connects the dots.”

The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which is being screened in a few cities and will be shown nationwide in September 2018, is based on a book by Emily Danforth. The film follows Cameron Post (actress Chloë Grace Moretz), an 11th grader who is sent to a religious gay conversion camp by her aunt after she is discovered making out with a female friend.

three young people sit on the ground in the forest at the base of a tree

From left: Forrest Goodluck, Chloë Grace Moretz and Sasha Lane star as LGBTQ youth sent to a religious gay conversion camp in the film “The Miseducation of Cameron Post.”

The nuanced, often understated film from director Desiree Akhavan shows how adults who think they are helping children become “normal” can do enormous psychological damage by trying to change their sexuality.   NASW and other mental health organizations decades ago proved conversion therapy does not work and should be banned.

Yet Felton said the practice is still widespread in the United States. Only 14 states, the District of Columbia, and some municipalities ban gay conversation therapy for minors, she said.

In the film the teenagers at “God’s Promise” conversion camp are not physically abused. The facility is clean and inviting and the inmates have singalongs and go on excursions. However, the psychological abuse is palpable.

Dr. Lydia Marsh (played by Jennifer Ehle), the camp director, says Cameron’s name is too masculine, girls should only participate in gender neutral sports such as hiking, and she threatens to and eventually cuts a boy’s hair that she thinks is too long and feminine.

Felton said it was disturbing to see a woman who claims to be a therapist invalidate her clients’ emotions, minimize their trauma, and characterize normal feelings and behaviors as a sin against God.

In the film Dr. Marsh claims she has cured her brother Rev. Rick (played by John Gallagher Jr.) of homosexuality but Cameron is not sure that is true.

“You don’t now what you are doing,” Cameron says to Rev. Rick. “You are just making it up as you go along.”

When tragedy strikes one of the camp inmates, Cameron and two other camp inmates she has befriended decide to retake control of their lives. NASW urges you to watch The Miseducation of Cameron Post to learn whether they succeed.

To learn more about the film and buy tickets visit the official website.

NASW has long been against conversion therapy for people who are LGBT. Social workers, visit our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender practice website to learn more.

If you are a person who is LGBT or an ally, visit NASW’s Help Starts Here to learn how social workers can help.

And read the SAMHSA report, Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth.

 

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  1. I was fortunate to see a private screening of this film and attend a talk-back with the movie’s stars and filmmaker. I thought it was provocative, powerful and important. It relays with sensitivity and intelligence issues that carry strong relevance today. It would receive my vote for a VOICE Award.

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