Teen Forced to Wear Backpack Full of Rocks to Cure Her Lesbianism
Alex Cooper is finally lifting this weight off her shoulders.
In a new book, Cooper, 21, details the events that unfolded after she came out to her parents as a lesbian at 15 years old. Saving Alex recounts her eight months in conversion therapy, a suicide attempt and the cruel things the Mormon leadership of the therapy told her.
Her most visceral memory, she writes, is of having to stand against a wall with a backpack full of rocks.
"I did not know how many hours I had been standing there, quietly trying to manage the pain by shifting my weight from foot to foot," the books reads, according to Salt Lake City television station KUTV.
According to Cooper, the conversion therapy leaders told her that her family didn't want her and that "God had no place for people like [her]" in his plan. Cooper endured other physical abuse, like direct punches to the gut, as well," she wrote.
Cooper was raised in Southern California as part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, whose members are known as Mormons. The Mormon-led conversion program in Utah, led by a husband and wife duo, according to Cooper, repeatedly told teenage Cooper that she was there because she was gay and that they would change her sexuality.
"It's like sending you to therapy to change your eye color," Cooped told KUTV. "It's not going to work. What it's going to do is damage you."
Scientific conversations against conversion therapy are unambiguous: The practice is harmful and does not work. Despite that, the practice is still legal in 47 states. There is a recommendation from the U.S. government to ban the practice altogether, but no action has been taken on it. Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has made banning the practice part of her presidential platform.
Cooper reconciled with her parents, who she says were misinformed.
"They thought they were doing the best thing for me," Cooper told KUTV. "I think that's what a lot of parents are under the impression of, that they're doing the best thing for their child."
With the help of a lawyer, Cooper is working to end conversion therapy in Utah.
"The church denounces any therapy that subjects an individual to abusive practices," LDS spokesman Eric Hawkins told KUTV. "We hope those who experience the complex realities of same-sex attraction find compassion and understanding from family members, professional counselors and church members."