Memphis DCS investigation finds no abuse

MEMPHIS – The Department of Children’s Services in Memphis concluded their investigation into the “Refuge” residential facility, part of the Love in Action (LIA) program. LIA purports to be “a Christ-centered ministry for the prevention or treatment of unhealthy and destructive behaviors facing families, adults, and adolescents.” Opponents see it as an onslaught on the psychological health of gay teens by attempting to force changes in sexual orientation through strict adherence to a set of rules purportedly based on fundamentalist Christian views.

Recent attention was focused on “Refuge” when Zach, a 16-year-old Bartlett, Tenn., gay teen, was able to post his story on the Internet along with an inside look at the rules and regulations of the so-called “ex-gay” therapy enclave. The program is designed for youth ages 15 to 18 years of age.

Reading his story, young people from the area organized a protest outside the facility early in the week after the boy was admitted to the program. As the days passed, the group numbers swelled as the youngsters were joined with a wide range of people from the community at large as the days grew closer to time for the Memphis Pride celebration. The group is calling themselves the Queer Action Coalition (QAC.)

In response to the allegations of child abuse made by QAC, DCS officials launched an investigation into the program, and today gave a final report finding no abusive practices present according to an Associated Press (AP) report dated Wednesday, June 28, 2005.

"DCS dispatched its special investigations unit to the facility, and after conducting a full investigation, determined that the child abuse allegations were unfounded," said Rob Johnson, an agency spokesman in the referenced AP article.

The article further states that John Smid, Executive Director of Love in Action, denied ever receiving specific allegations of abuse.

QAC has issued an invitation to LIA, offering to host a workshop for the youth going through the Refuge program so that they “can get to know queer youth like themselves and have the ability to make informed choices.”

Protests continued outside the LIA facility in Memphis as late as Tuesday, June 28.

Group members urge readers to send an e-mail of support to Tommy Tommy Corman, Development Director at LIA at info@loveinaction.org or give them a call at (901) 751-2468 to urge them to allow the workshop to proceed.

Photo courtesy of Jose Cuervo

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