WATCH: Gay Kids Kidnapped for Christ
Ever since lesbian Lynn Duff, then 16, managed to escape from a Utah-based "reparative therapy" program in 1992, the plight of queer and trans kids being forced to undergo treatment along with other "troubled" kids at religious schools has been well known. Though the reality of kids being shipped off to these programs by their conservative Christian parents was satirized in the 1999 lesbian film But I'm a Cheerleader and later told with honest brutality in Julia Scheeres's 2005 best-selling memoir, Jesus Land, a new documentary alleges that the abuses are still going on long after the media attention to them died down. Kidnapped for Christ revisits the same camp that Scheeres discussed, an evangelical Christian reform school located in the Dominican Republic called Escuela Caribe. Kidnapped follows several American teens sent to Escuela Caribe, whose mission is stated as helping "struggling youth transform into healthy Christian adults.”
According to the film's website, filmmaker Kate Logan was given "unprecedented access to film for seven weeks on campus in the summer of 2006. Through candid interviews with distressed students, footage of staff imposing extreme discipline and punishments, and finally the attempted rescue of a student being held at the school illegally past the age of 18, she was able to reveal the shocking truth of what was actually going on at Escuela Caribe."
The central focus: David, a gay kid from Colorado, sent to Escuela after coming out to his parents. After meeting him, Logan smuggled a letter from him to the U.S., and eventually an entire community got involved to rescue him. The film, says Logan — who also interviewed Scheeres and other adult survivors of the school — does more than just tackle the troubling rise of inhumane treatment at these "therapeutic" boarding schools. The goal, she says via the website, is to "tell the stories of the students at Escuela Caribe and to give them a voice so that they may make people aware of the broader industry of schools like Escuela Caribe and the potential danger they constitute for our youth. We hope that the film will be entertaining, shocking, thought provoking and will ultimately inspire change in the way these types of schools are run and regulated."