Updated: This now has been signed into law in California. California has passed yet another bill in the effort to create a state where truly the society is affirming and equal for all. This bill has the added objective of making our state safe for all, especially teens and children. The kids in question here, ironically, are also the ones who are at most risk for bullying and teen suicide. This time, the issue is not about either of those dangers to them…at least, not directly… it is to save them from damage from their own parents, even though said parents in their hearts, believe they are doing good. Or just don’t want the neighbor’s to talk.
What the Bill is About The legislation states that a mental health provider may not seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation if that person is under the age of 18. This includes efforts to “change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”
The “reparative therapy” this bill seeks to limit has been regarded by The American Psychiatric Association, The American School Counselor Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs, The National Association of Social Workers , The American Counseling Association Governing Council , The American Psychoanalytic Association, The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry , and The Pan American Health Organization as harmful.
Concerns Against It The “ex-gay” movement of course claims this is everything from “unconstitutional” “denying parental rights everywhere” which is “usurping the civil rights of parents who support their child’s right to receive therapy for unwanted same-sex attractions, especially when that child has been sexually molested” to “fascism”. They claim that it ignores conjecture about “the psychological and physical health risks of sodomy “ and is based on “biased information without consulting the ex-gay community “ (source: Parents and Friends of Ex-gays)
Update: Jo Linder-Crow and the California Psychological Association came out in favor of the bill and helped pass it. She stated this in the comment section of this article when it appeared on the Huffington Post: “The California Psychological Association supports SB 1172 to ban the use of Sexual Orientation Change Efforts with minors. Our organization worked over several months with Senator Ted Lieu to modify the bill so that it protects minors from this potentially damaging intervention, while it protects legitimate therapy with minor patients who want to explore their own sexual orientation and identy. psychologists and patients. The legislative process is most often evolutionary as a bill is introduced and amended. This was the case with this bill, and we are pleased that by working collaboratively with the Author and Sponsors of the bill we were able to shift our position from an initial Oppose Unless Amended position, to a Neutral position, and finally to a Support position. We are hopeful that the Governor will sign the bill.” Surprising, at least to me, is that Jo Linder-Crow, executive director of the California Psychological Association, and a team of her colleagues were against it originally. One of the leading concerns was that the bill not allow for therapy providers to be able to be sued (“We don’t support anything that brings this wider birth of legal action against psychologists”). They also felt the definition of “sexual orientation change” was too vague, and that minors should be able to choose to undergo the therapy themselves if they are deemed “mature”.
My Take on It Ms. Linder-Crow had no qualms last year in pushing to make children skiing without helmets illegal. The bill was vetoed, much to her disappointment. She did not seem concerned that either parents or “mature” kids be consulted in the practice. There did not seem to be much ballyhooing over the specific of what “wearing” a helmet consisted. Then again, there was no reason that someone would wear a helmet, and then go sue their therapist.
I do see some validity in the age of responsibility of someone choosing their own therapy, and in other cases, 12 years old and above is acceptable if the person can make a “mature” decision. This is not other cases, however. This is a case where the entire motivation to change is outside stigma, family and religious pressure. It is unthinkable that coercion would not be present consciously, subconsciously or unconsciously. That coercion is the basis for many things that we guard vehemently against in the sexuality arena from statutory rape to sexual harassment. I can think of no harm in asking even a seemingly willing participant from sharing, vetting but waiting until the age of consent for “feeling modification techniques”.
As far as being sued…professionals need to be held accountable, and I would hope that Linder-Crow has a proposal to make that happen if she has an aversion to court rooms.
My take, therefore, is … the healthy kid population of California needs this protection. As a parent, I am vigilant over my responsibilities and I am a “Daddy Grizzly” in care for my kids. But I understand that I am not all knowing, and like my children, while I may protest and feel my autonomy is threatened by boundaries, inside, I welcome them. I welcome being restricted on things that through my ignorance or carelessness, I may inadvertently put my children at risk. I am not allowed to expose them to various adult material, substances, compulsion inducing behavior or to leave them alone in a heated car.
I would have even welcomed Linder-Crow’s ski helmet law.
I would not even want my own dogmatic evangelized agendas (if I had them) to harm my children—no matter what. If I fell in the shower and every lick of sense fell out of my head, and I decided that I was going to send my boys to some crack pot therapist to MAKE them gay…. Go ahead and stop me. Please. Seriously. (And something tells me that the P-ex gay flaggers would do everything in their power to do so.)
I want my children safe. I want YOUR children safe. Mental health professionals have concluded that risks from these therapies include “undermining self-esteem, connectedness and caring, important protective factors against suicidal ideation and attempts.”
Our kids will all be living in this world together, and if you screw up yours with damaging mental manipulation therapy, it will harm far more than just them.
So, tell you what… let’s let them all get to 18, have their childhoods and develop to who they want to be. Then if you have worked your propaganda right, they will select the agendized “therapist” you want for them.
But. I hope not.
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And just exactly why would a kid think there is something terribly wrong with being gay? It’s the pressure and judgment from parents, friends, church (threat of Hell), conservative politicians, etc. that drives the hapless kid to “seek treatment.” The bill is appropriate, but I personally believe age 16 is more reasonable.
This bill is a travesty that never should have made it so far along the legislative path. It’s the coastal California equivalent of the sort of legislation restricting abortions common in states that lean towards the opposite end of the political spectrum. Swap out the nouns and the wording is virtually identical; “protecting _____ from the harmful procedure ______ which is known to cause _____ and carry great risk of _____.” Both are the worst kind of political pandering to regional interests groups by legislators more concerned with vote tallies than the health and well being of the people whose personal choices they seek to restrict.
It also sets a dangerous precedent. Imagine a less gay friendly government looking at the very real and awful statistics for suicide and self destructive behavior among transgender youths, and following that to an alternative conclusion: that hormone therapies or other gender identity treatments are inherently hurtful to confused youth, and their hands and those of their enabling parents must be tied for their own good. It’s arguably just as logical, and in different areas would certainly be as politically beneficial.
Acceptance comes from understanding. That can’t be legislated into existence. The state has no business choosing which elective therapies do or do not pass the political smell test, just as it has no business restricting personal choices that I suspect are more hurtful to the interest groups opposed to them than they are to the supposed victims. As offensive an idea as it is to certain parts of the gay community, not everyone who is gay wants to be. If someone wants to spend a part of their life getting yelled at by some closeted minister, that is their business, not ours. Either they’ll chose to live that way, or curiosity will get the better of them and they’ll end up dancing their butt off on Castro St like the rest of us.
Bravo Rob!! And I believe that if a child needs therapy for anything it is not just the child’s need it is the needs of that child and the parents. They have to be participants in their childrens lives, I think too many parents put a child in therapy and think “we’ll let the therapist handle this”, and are not taking their job of parent seriously.I think sometimes it is not the child who needs therapy but the parents! I believe this bill is on the right track.
It has already passed one of the houses in the California Congress. It is likely that it will have compromises before it gets passed by the other… which is why the discussion about the CPA. It disturbs me, however, that their concerns are shortsighted and not really taking the effect this has on at-risk kids into account.
Seems strange that a bill that is supposed to help is shortsighted.
Sorry–I was not clear… IMO, it is not the bill that is short-sighted, it is the CPA. Their concerns are not about the harm of reparative therapy, but of having to deal with legal concerns around it.
Thanks for clarifying Rob, I was a bit confused.
I’m torn about it. I think the bill sounds good, but I am worried what a can of worms it might open. Children need protection from these harmful programs (they are not actually doing therapy). I can’t even imagine the pain and confusion this does to a child.
I totally agree that therapists needs to be held accountable, and that part of the bill would really worry me.
The challenge is gong to be getting it through. That has to be a red hot issue for some Christians, and they will be out in full force over this one.
Excellent points Anne. I also fear that many such parents subscribe to the Michelle Bachmann theory that ALL gay people have been molested and so would try to convince the child that it had happened, and they were simply blocking it.
It is just scary, scary business. So appreciate your input!
Good work, Rob! It seems reasonable to protect children from therapies that are damaging, even when those therapies are desired by the parents. I suspect that the parents who feel strongly about trying to de-gay their children can always find a pastor somewhere who can approach the process from a “religious” perspective, so I don’t see this bill as trampling on parents’ rights.
Furthermore, it seems to me that the confused feelings and PTSD of a child who has been molested transcend issues of sexual identity. There would seem to be no reason why a therapist would not be able to treat a molestation victim’s unwanted sexual feelings or acting out (whatever the kind) as part and parcel of the consequences of having been molested. But when a young person who has NOT been molested feels gay. but also feels reluctant or scared to be gay, the therapist has an obligation to help the child cope with homophobia and understand that there is nothing wrong with being gay.