Family members of a gay teen want her out of a Christian boarding facility. They say she was sent there by her own parents to "pray away the gay."
The girl’s aunt hired an Austin-based attorney who's well-known for litigating LGBT cases. KENS 5 spoke with the CHA Law Group. The firm confirmed that attorney Christine Andresen is representing the family but says she cannot comment on an ongoing case.
There's limited information about Sarah, but the teen was sent to a facility in East Texas. The family has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the legal costs to try to get her out.
The page dedicated to her release, “Save Sarah,” is not only attracting the dollars but outrage from the community. The family said that the 17-year-old’s parents sent her to a Christian boarding facility to undergo "therapy" for her "disease" after she went to prom with her girlfriend.
Sarah’s cousin, Jeremy Jordan, is an actor on the CBS show "Supergirl." He is publicizing the family's mission, which is gaining widespread attention and support outside of Texas.
While many people are on Sarah's side, Patrick Von Dohlen is not.
“It’s for their own protection and good,” said Von Dohlen, who is president of the San Antonio Family Association. “In this case, it’s natural for her to like boys. It’s not natural for her to like girls.”
The San Antonio Family Association is a non-profit group that advocates “family values” in the community. He said that the aunt who filed the lawsuit is violating the parents' rights. Since Sarah's not 18 yet, state law allows her parents to send her to the facility.
“It's going to cost them money that actually harms the young woman from getting the care and treatment she needs,” Von Dohlen said.
The boarding facility practices a type of treatment that the family calls "psychologically damaging." They say this fight to get Sarah out is not just for her, but for other gay teens.
The family said that Sarah tried to escape the facility but was caught by staff.
A hearing is set for July.