Jeff White claims that he was raped by his teacher as a teen for three years as a conversion therapy “cure” for his homosexuality

A gay American man says that he was sexually abused as a teen for three years by a teacher at a Baptist school in an attempt to “cure” his sexual orientation.

The former student, Jeff White, now 32, alleges that, shortly after coming out in 1996, his parents turned to the local church in Walls, Mississippi, which ran a school that promised to “cure” their son and stop him from being gay.

Beginning in his first year of high school, according to White, teacher Steven Barnes began subjecting him to weekly “counselling” sessions in which he regularly raped and sexually assaulted the teenager to convince him that being gay was more painful than suppressing his sexual orientation.

“He would rape me because I was gay and because it would make me hate men and make me change,” White told the Washington Blade.

After more than a decade of emotional turmoil, White, through the National Centre for Lesbian Rights, last week filed a complaint with the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department against Barnes, who is now the Assistant Pastor at the Bethel Baptist Church.

White said in a press statement that he hopes to help others who “have been hurt by the immoral practices of conversion therapy.”

He explained that, “After growing older and witnessing so many who are still harmed by the church and by efforts to correct homosexuality through traumatic and damaging tactics like the ones used against me, I finally realised that it is my duty to stand up against those who have harmed me.

“By speaking out against the wrongdoings that were committed within the walls of Bethel Baptist School, I hope to shed light on the darkness that is so easily hidden within the church, and to help ensure that no one else suffers the pain that I had to endure,” said White, who runs an LGBT centre in Mississippi.

Major medical and mental health organisations around the world have denounced efforts to change sexual orientation or gender expression as ineffective and potentially harmful. Instead, they believe that therapy should be used to help people accept their sexuality.

Despite this, so-called conversion therapy continues be administered around the world, including in South Africa. Two states in the US, California and New Jersey, have now banned the practice among anyone under the age of 18.

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