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I said I didn't want to deflate any drama and I'm not sure it would if Maria was to finally stand up to the school, Father Quenton and her parents and tell them just what to do with their attempts to control her and Rudy's lives.

Yes, of course. It's not enough to have rights, you have to know you have them, be prepared for the consequences of asserting them and have the courage to go forward even though everything in your life may change if you do assert them. And suddenly having to support yourself on your own is certainly extremely scary. On the other hand, given her situation at home, it's quite likely Maria has at least thought about the possibility.

As to the resources to sue, there are any number of organizations that will help young LGBT people fight against conversion "therapy" and other abuses. Also, if the prospects of winning a money judgment are reasonably good, private attorneys will take a case on what is known as a "contingency fee," where they are paid out of the judgment only if the case is won.

I'm not saying any of these are the best option or what anyone in Maria's situation should do, I was just pointing out some of the possibilities given her situation and the law.

Quite true but not only restraining her but transporting her against her will to some other location to make it harder for her to free herself goes beyond a mere civil action and she could justifiably seek to have all involved prosecuted for the crime of kidnapping.

Despite your rights, you can always be victimized by a crime. The consequences for the perpetrators increase dramatically [pun intended] too.

Not to deflate the drama or anything ... Maria is 18 years old. As an adult, the school had no right to try to detain her until her parents arrived. Indeed, if the school tried to physically restrain her, that would be "unlawful restraint," akin to kidnapping, and she could sue the school for it.

It just felt right to bring up after the last page.

You know, you don't have to justify your decisions as author to us. ;-)

I'm sure our esteemed host is well aware that someone who is just a bully wouldn't wait for Rudy to finish his speech. That suggests that we may be about to find out something about Todd and his behavior that takes him out of the category of mere bully.

Well ... getting Todd to beat him up might finally get Todd tossed ... especially if Chanel's parents have sicced a lawyer on the school. Painful but maybe effective ...

OK, so Maria and Emily haven't tumbled to the fact yet that, since Maria is 18, her father can't force her to go anywhere ... either back home or to any conversion camp. Of course, the parents of her friends might not want to get involved. Aunt Fara's job, given Father Quenton, might be on the line, as well as expulsion of the children of any parents who help Maria. For Father Quenton, in for one irrational decision, in for a pound of them ...

Anyone who saw the movie The Revenant , starring Leonardo DiCaprio ... just think of the scene where the mama bear thinks its cub is in danger. Norm had better watch his step.

While the mainstream professional organizations of the medical/ psychological/ counseling communities have condemned conversion therapy, the law in the US has not clearly labeled it as child abuse. Only 9 states have outlawed such therapy if performed by a medical professional. No state has outlawed attempts by religious organizations to "convert" LGBT children. Given the 1st Amendment Freedom of Religion clause, it is highly unlikely that governments can outlaw religious conversion attempts. Of course, actual physical or mental abuse can be prohibited but authorities are generally less likely to interfere with the practices of religious organizations because of the 1st Amendment.

A recent report by the Williams Institute ( uth/) estimates that 57,000 children presently aged 13-17 will be subjected to conversion therapy by a religious or spiritual advisor before they reach 18. Another 20,000 will be subjected to it by a licensed health care professional who does not follow the guidelines of the rest of their profession and is not in one of the states that outlaws it.

Anyone else feel like Mrs. Strongwell is really not homophobic?

More like she has been indoctrinated by her religion (and her husband) to view LGBT people as sinners who choose to sin. Up against that, her maternal instinct to love her kids no matter what is kicking in and causing her to question that indoctrination. If Norm keeps senselessly hurting her kids, she will (I predict) respond like any mother animal ... and Norm will not be immune.

They can happen just about anywhere. Religious "camps" can be set up in the US just about anywhere at little cost and with little regulation because of local governments' reluctance to interfere with the First Amendment's "Freedom of Religion" clause. Worse, they can be and have been set up in foreign countries with even less concern for human rights than in the US. You can go to the Human Rights Campaign's or the Trevor Project's websites to learn more about conversion therapy and the damage it has and continues to do to children.

I was kinda assuming that but it's nice to have it confirmed!

If Maria is 18 (has that been established?) and they are not in one of the three states where the age of majority is 19 or the one where it is 21, then Fara couldn't be charged with interference with parental custody or kidnapping. On the other hand, if Maria has reached the age of majority, her parents couldn't (legally) force her to go to a conversion camp.

Maria might have to consider what effect her defiance of her parents might have on their treatment of Rudy, however. They have legal control of him that Fara would be ill-advised (in a legal sense) to interfere with.

Our esteemed host has left lots of room for possible drama.

I should have made it clear that it would be a bad idea for Fara, not Maria. Interfering with parental custody can rise to the level of a crime and worse, for a teacher like Fara, could result in her not being able to get employment again in that profession. Of course, just taking in a scared teen for a night would not have any dire consequences but hiding her from her parents for any extended period almost certainly would.

There are other things Fara and the rest could do, including putting her in touch with children's advocacy groups, some of which have fought to free underage kids from these sorts of places. One such case is frighteningly detailed in the book Saving Alex: When I Was Fifteen I Told My Mormon Parents I Was Gay, and That's When My Nightmare Began by Alex Cooper.

If she is over 18 (in most states that is the age of majority ... in 3 states it is 19 and one, Pennsylvania, it's 21) it would take a court order after a competency hearing where she would be represented by a court-appointed guardian ad litem, before she could be declared incompetent.

They could, of course, flat-out kidnap her ... and that has happened ... but there would be consequences for that. It is the kids that are under the age of majority and those so under the sway of their parents that they agree to go to one of those camps that are most at risk of being abused in such places.

Where could she have gone?

Well, since Emily was the last person Maria was seen with and expressed her continuing concern for Maria's welfare, she's the obvious answer to where Maria may have gone ... somewhere Emily could have helped her get to.

One note: anyone hoping that Maria winds up at Aunt Fara's ... that's a really bad idea. That would border on a criminal act, if Maria is under 18, unless Fara promptly notified Maria's parents and/or the authorities of her whereabouts. Of course, if Maria is over 18, she would not have to go to any conversion camp in any event and if her parents throw her out for not agreeing to go, she's free to go anywhere, like Tara's, that will take her in.
Puddle's Delight

Totally OT but I'm sure it will delight Puddle. Comedian John Oliver, on his HBO show, Last Week Tonight, created a children's book about Vice President Mike Pence's pet rabbit, Marlon Bundo, to compete with the one produced by Pence's daughter and wife ... except that, in Oliver's version, Marlon had fallen in love with and married another male bunny ... a story line Oliver revealed after recounting Pence's anti-LGBTQ stands over the years. All the proceeds of the book are going to the Trevor Project and AIDs United.

Well, it turns out that Oliver's book has not only far exceeded the sales of the Pence's book, but it has shot to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list and sold out it's first printing of 180,000 copies in just two days.

Perhaps to add a bit of family insult to injury, Pence's daughter Charlotte and author of their book, revealed that she, too, had bought Oliver's, saying: “He’s giving proceeds of the book to charity, and we’re also giving proceeds of our book to charity, so I really think that we can all get behind it."

Father Quenton has a (non-fatal) heart attack, Brother Arthur takes over as head of the school for the rest of the year, everybody goes to the prom with whoever they like and pink unicorns dance in the streets?

Okay, maybe that's a bit much ...

Ditto, ditto, ditto ...