Editor’s Note: This piece has been changed to remove an op-ed comment regarding Brees’ relationship with LGBT icon Ellen. Brees has now issued a statement regarding this video, which you can view here.
On Thursday, August 29 the anti-LGBTQ+ religious group Focus on the Family released a video featuring none other than Saints star quarterback, Drew Brees.
The short video features Brees encouraging children to participate in the group’s “Bring Your Bible to School Day” on October 3, presumably so that they can “live their faith” by “sharing God’s love” and attempting to convert their fellow students at school. It’s no secret that Brees is a Christian, so the fact that he would record such a video likely isn’t much of a surprise.
What is surprising is the anti-bullying advocate‘s support of a religious group known to be one of the most well funded anti-LGBT organizations in the country. Focus on the Family supports and promotes the practice of “conversion therapy,” which uses a combination of shaming, emotionally manipulative and traumatic stimuli, and physically painful stimuli in order to “cure” LGBTQ+ people of their sexual orientation. According to The Trevor Project, more than 700,000 LGBTQ+ people have been subjected to conversion therapy, in spite of the fact that the American Psychiatric Association discredited the practice and hasn’t classified homosexuality as a mental illness since 1973.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, “the potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.” In addition, the Pan American Health Organization, which is a regional office of the World Health Organization has stated that conversion therapy “lack[s] medical justification and represent[s] a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people.”
As noted by The Trevor Project:
Conversion therapy amplifies the shame and stigma so many LGBT young people already experience. Parents who send their child to conversion therapy instill feelings of family rejection and disappointment and risk seriously fracturing their relationship with their child. In a study by San Francisco State University, lesbian, gay and bisexual youth who were rejected by their families and caregivers due to their identities were nearly six times more likely to report high levels of depression and more than eight times more likely to have attempted suicide when compared to youth from accepting and affirming families and caregivers. Few practices hurt LGBTQ youth more than attempts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In addition to their support of a practice that could be considered a picture-perfect example of institutionalized bullying, Focus on the Family has also regularly fought against anti-discrimination practices protecting the LGBTQ+ community. In Colorado, they launched an ad campaign against Governor Bill Ritter and other state legislators who were in support of a nondiscrimination bill. In Alaska, the group sent out robocalls urging residents to support an amendment nullifying same-sex partner employment benefits, and they support business owners who want to turn away LGBTQ+ customers, saying their religion “requires them to oppose [LGBTQ+ people’s] very existence.”
Interestingly, the video Brees filmed for Focus on the Family was hidden from the group’s Facebook timeline shortly after it was published. However, it remains available on smaller church pages who have shared it, as well as on the group’s YouTube channel. This might lead fans to believe that perhaps Brees wasn’t aware of who he was supporting. However, research shows that this is a long term partnership:
“Appreciating people for how they’re different from you – that’s what it takes to be a friend,” Brees said in his anti-bullying video featured on The Ellen Show. His anti-bullying stance once saw him named the LGBTQ+ icon’s “favorite quarterback.” This seems an odd group for a person who espouses those views to support.
Jenn Bentley is a freelance journalist and editor whose work has also been featured in publications such as Wander N.O. More, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, Examiner.com, and others. Follow her on Twitter: @JennBentley_