Saturday, June 11, 2005

IF THIS IS TRUE, it's very scary. A gay teenager is sent by his parents to a "boot camp" that turns out to be a Christian brainwashing camp. TalkLeft links to a blog the young man is writing. [See update at the end of this post.] He describes a long list of rules his parents didn't tell him about. These are not your ordinary rules.

2. No sexual/emotional misconduct. Any temptations, fantasies, or dreams are to be presented to one¹s staff worker only. Sexual misconduct includes viewing pornography, visiting an adult bookstore, emotional dependency, voyeurism, stalking, masturbation, mutual masturbation, or any form of genital or sexual contact with another person. Sexual temptation, as well as the above, is not to be discussed between clients. This includes MI's (Moral Inventories) written on current sexual struggles or temptations).

3. No hugging or physical touch between clients. Brief handshakes or a brief affirmative hand on a shoulder is allowed (exception is when observed by therapeutic accountability).
[...]
Men: Men must remove all facial hair seven days weekly, and sideburns must not fall below the top of the ear (the top
of the ear is defined as where the ear meets the face below the temple). Clean business-like haircuts must be worn at all
times. Hair must be long enough to be pinched between two fingers.
Women: Women must shave legs and underarms at least twice weekly.
All: Only natural hair color is allowed. Hair that is colored, highlighted or streaked, mut be dyed back to its original color, or the color must be cut out before entrance into the Refuge program.
[...]
Modesty is expected. No tight, provocative, or suggestive clothing or spandex may be worn. No provocative or
suggestive mannerisms are permitted. Fresh undergarments are to be worn at all times. Boxer shorts of any kind are
considered underwear and are not to be worn as outer clothing. All clients must be dressed appropriately in clean,
unwrinkled clothes when leaving the house for the day. Men may not wear any jewelry (other than a watch and a wedding band) unless approved through a C.O.C. In addition to a watch and wedding band, women may also wear a pair of simple earrings (one earring per ear.) The clients may not wear Abercrombie and Fitch or Calvin Klein brand clothing, undergarments, or accessories.
Men: Shirts are to be worn at all times, even while sleeping. T-shirts without sleeves are not permitted at any time,
whether worn as an outer garment or an undergarment. This includes ³muscle shirts² or other tank-tops. Bikini-style underwear is prohibited.
[...]
9. Refuge clients are expected to maintain a committed pursuit of a positive and thankful attitude.

10. Absolutely no journaling or keeping a diary outside of the MI process unless directed or approved by staff.

11. Absolutely no calling staff outside business hours unless it is an emotional, therapeutic, or physical emergency, or unless prior permission from staff has been obtained.
[...]
1. LIA wants to encourage each client, male and female, by affirming his/her gender identity. LIA also wants each client to pursue integrity in all of his/her actions and appearances. Therefore, any belongings, appearances, clothing, actions, or humor that might connect a client to an inappropriate past are excluded from the program. These hindrances are called False Images (FI¹s). FI behavior may include hyper-masculinity, seductive clothing, mannish/boyish attire (on women), excessive jewelry (on men), mascoting, and "campy" or gay/lesbian behavior and talk.

2. As non-residential clients, Refuge participants must submit to an F.I. search every morning. With the exception of the very first program day, when they may arrive no later than 9:00 a.m., Refuge clients will arrive daily at the Love in Action campus no later than 8:50 a.m., waiting in a designated area until a staff member meets them to perform the F.I. search and check them in. Refuge clients may not enter any of the client spaces on campus before submitting to an F.I. search. All belongings brought to campus will be searched, including book bags, notebooks, wallets, handbags, purses, etc. Items that violate the F.I. policy or the dress code will be held for the client, to be returned no later than the client¹s last day in program. Clients may request to have their F.I. items returned by filling out a C.O.C.
[...]
1. All new Refuge clients will be placed into Safekeeping for the initial two to three days of their program. A client on safekeeping may not communicate verbally, or by using hand gestures or eye contact, with any other clients, staff members, or his/her parents or guardians. In case of a practical need, Safekeeping clients may write down their question or request and show it to another client, staff member, or their parent or guardian. Writing may only be used when absolutely necessary. Parents and guardians must enforce their child¹s safekeeping status at home or in their temporary lodging.

2. Refuge clients may C.O.C. to be removed from Safekeeping status. Safekeeping clients will be removed from Safekeeping at their staffworker¹s discretion.

3. Any client may be placed into Safekeeping at any time, at a staffworker¹s discretion.

4. Safekeeping clients are permitted to say ³hello² and to communicate enough information to be courteous in public interaction (mostly in the clients¹ church setting).
[...]

And this one:

1. No discussing therapeutic issues at home. Keep conversations positive.

There is much more than this; the list of rules is unbelievably long.

It sounds more like a "re-education" camp in Mao's China or in Stalinist Russia than it does a camp in the United States based on Christian ideals.

UPDATE: After I published this post, I saw the following Comment on TalkLeft from Mike Ditto, the blogger who wrote about this teenager originally. TalkLeft found out about the story from Mike's blog.

Posted by Michael Ditto at June 11, 2005 03:44 PM
Thanks for the link! One thing I should make clear (and I'll edit my post) is that the kid wrote the blog before he was sent into this camp. Nobody has heard from him since.

Kids inside the camp have no internet access, and use of computers is limited to those located inside the offices of the camp.
There are several other comments about this camp at TalkLeft.

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