|Posted by Roland R. Hansen on June 7, 2020 at 6:25 PM|
This testimony was found on Reddit. Praise the author for sharing it.
I went to Turn About Ranch when I was 13 because I was gay. I'm 29 now (and happily married to my beautiful, same-sex partner).
I was a fairly good kid, but I think that Turn About Ranch really messed me up and caused trauma that I'm still unpacking. When I first arrived to the camp, they refused to give me my prescribed epilepsy medication for a whole week, claiming it was a part of their "detox" methods for all kids.
The first week without my medication I was having a really hard time focusing (ie. having staring seizures) and burned my hand in fire. They refused to get me medical care until it was spotted in a later photo. It was a 3rd degree burn on my hand.
I went from around 100+ lbs to 89 lbs in three weeks. Again, they refused medical care until my family saw my state in photos and demanded it.
Things got better after I received medical care, but it took so much advocacy from my family.
While I was at camp, I was repeatedly insulted and called a "lesbo" by staff, as if it was my name. Other kids at the camp did it to, and the staff encouraged it.
As time went on I just learned to be invisible. When my family saw me at the half-way point, they were very afraid because of how silent I was. I wouldn't make eye contact or even engage in small talk. I just wanted to disappear.
At the end of the three months, the camp did not want to release my rights to my family. They said that I "hadn't changed" and obviously they were right. The only thing that changed was that I went from a girl who had confidence and spirit to one who felt immense fear.
The thing I want you to know is that after I left, I never trusted my family again. When I went through something scary, I never opened up to them. When I went through something beautiful and good, I never opened up to them. I went from gay 13 year old to a gay 13 year old with lifelong trauma.
There is no physical safety at Turn About Ranch. There is no psychological safety at Turn About Ranch. Don't send anyone you love there.