Therapy Used to “Convert” Gay Teens to Heterosexuality Banned in California
California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Sep. 29, 2012 that prohibits licensed mental health professionals from using “reparative” or “conversion” therapies with clients under the age of 18. Although California became the first state to ban the practice, the law applies only to licensed therapists, not ministers or lay people.
The bill, introduced by State Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), states that “mental health providers who use sexual orientation change efforts on clients under 18 would be engaging in unprofessional conduct and subject to discipline by their respective state licensing boards.”
Brown said during the signing that the bill “bans non-scientific ‘therapies’ that have driven young people to depression and suicide. These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.”
According to the American Psychological Association, “the term ‘reparative therapy’ refers to psychotherapy aimed at eliminating homosexual desires and is used by people who do not think homosexuality is one variation within human sexual orientation, but rather still believe homosexuality is a mental disorder.”
The American Psychiatric Association states that “ethical practitioners [must] refrain from attempts to change individuals’ sexual orientation.” Whereas the practice is condemned by the California Psychological Association and the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, other organizations including the Catholic Medical Association and New Directions Ministries say that sexual orientation can be successfully changed.
Two Christian legal groups representing therapists whose practices include attempts to help clients change their sexual orientations, California-based Pacific Justice Institute and Florida-based Liberty Counsel, said they would sue in federal court to prevent the law from taking effect on Jan. 1, 2013. Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver said the law “tells minors that they can no longer receive information about same-sex attractions that they have been receiving and that they find beneficial to them. It also puts counselors in a situation where they must present only one viewpoint of this subject.”
David Pruden, Vice President of the California-based National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality (NARTH), a professional association that supports treatment for homosexuality, estimates there are two dozen therapists in California who engage in efforts to change sexual orientation, but not all of them treat adolescents.
On Sep. 23, 2012, two New Jersey lawmakers announced plans to introduce legislation banning conversion therapy in their state.
Associated Press, “California Ban on Gay Teen ‘Conversion’ Therapy to Be Encouraged in Other States,” washingtonpost.com, Oct. 1, 2012
Josh Levs, “California Governor OKs Ban on Gay Conversion Therapy, Calling It ‘Quackery,'” cnn.com, Oct. 2, 2012
Los Angeles Times, “California Gay ‘Conversion’ Therapy Ban Generating Hot Debate,” latimes.com, Oct. 2, 2012
Robert Hulshof-Schmidt, “California Bans ‘Ex-Gay’ Therapy for Minors,” examiner.com, Oct. 1, 2012
Julie O’Connor, “Conversion Therapy for Gay Kids: Treatment or Child Abuse?,” nj.com, Sep. 23, 2012