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

Movie Poster

Movie Poster

Elizabeth Felton is an attorney at the National Association of Social Workers 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, JD, LICSW, 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 but will be shown nationwide in September, 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.

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

From left Forrest Goodluck, Chloë Grace Moretz and Sasha Lane star as LGBT 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.

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

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 (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 not validate the children’s 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 (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.”

Tragedy strikes one of the camp inmates and 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.

NASW has long been against conversion therapy for people who are LGBT. Visit our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender website to learn more. If you are a person who is LGBT or a supporter visit NASW’s Help Starts Here website to learn how social workers can help.


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