CA Considers Bill Banning Ex-Gay Therapy

While right wingers continue to scream about the supposed negative effects of homosexuality and gay marriage on society, precious little is done to address the very real harm caused by so-called “ex-gay” therapy. But yesterday, a California Senate subcommittee approved a measure that would outlaw such therapy for minors in the Golden State.

Introduced by Sen. Ted Lieu, SB 1172 would prevent anyone under the age of 18 from receiving reparative treatments and require any adult seeing it out to sign the following disclaimer:

Having a lesbian, gay, or bisexual sexual orientation is not a mental disorder. There is no scientific evidence that any types of therapies are effective in changing a person’s sexual orientation. Sexual orientation change efforts can be harmful. The risks include, but are not limited to, depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior.

Medical and mental health associations that oppose the use of sexual orientation change efforts include the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Counseling Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

The goal—preventing parents, therapists or other adults from forcing children into such therapy at a time when they’re most vulnerable—is admirable. But if this bill is affirming that reparative therapy is harmful junk science, shouldn’t it be banned altogether? We can’t go on TV and make false claims about curing health problems and weight gain, so why should some quack get away with it when it comes to sexual orientation?

Source: Think Progress. Photo: Truth Wins Out

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  • DenverBarbie

    Finally! Great to see this in California, though it should be taken up on a federal level. Sending your child to “reparative” therapy is anything but reparative, it is damaging and should be classified (legally) as child abuse.

  • Dave

    The fact that it’s harmful isn’t itself enough to ban it. Smoking’s harmful, too, but people who want to smoke are allowed to smoke.

    If it were a legitimate medical practice, performed by licensed professionals, then yes, we could easily ban it. But it isn’t. It’s more like psychic surgery, reiki, chiropracty, acupuncture, herbal supplements, or any of those other peripheral “health” fields who make dubious claims. To ban it outright would require a great deal more in depth findings of harm than simply “the California legislature says so”, or risk lawsuits from everyone whose “profession” is suddenly illegal. That’s probably the way to go in the long run, but it’s expensive to do so. It’s easier to let independent science do the work first.

    In the meantime, we may not be able to ban it, but we sure can regulate the hell out of what health claims they can make—which is exactly what this bill does.

    Protecting minors from this garbage—note that it’s an outright ban for them, meaning neither their own nor parental consent is sufficient—is a great first step. It recognizes that a minor’s ability to consent isn’t always meaningful, because their minority makes them particularly susceptible to coercion from their parents.

    I haven’t read the bill in detail yet, but providing a cause of action for those subjected to reparative therapy without meaningful consent should go a long way toward undermining the more obvious abuses, like shipping your kids out of state for therapy or glossing over the disclaimer to obtain consent.

  • Belize

    JayKay: DAMN LIBERALS! What do they 32 kids I made with my beard to do on their summer break if they make the clinic illegal? Have fun? Wake up, America. You’re getting soft!

    Samo: Yeah! Like all those effeminate queers who have the nerve to be themselves while I pretend to be one of the boys hoping to at least have my ass brush against one of their crotches whenever we play football!

  • iDavid

    This is great in that it will publicize the issue legally via banning. Big message big effect. Now we need Florida to ban it as well where the freak show Exodus International resides, the most infected damaging discriminatory reparative therapy organization in the world.

  • Hyhybt

    As for the question of a total ban…. really, it’s no different than Jehovah’s Witnesses refusing blood transfusions. It’s a dangerous thing to do, but if they want to, they’re adults and responsible for themselves. They’re not allowed to refuse them for their children.

  • Sternflammende

    As someone working in the field of psychological therapies and currently working towards a dr. degree, I can say with 100% confidence that any psychologist/counselor/therapist offering this therapy can have their licensure revoked by the APA on grounds that it is unethical.

    The more you know ———* (shooting star)

  • Clockwork

    I swear somedays I cannot tell the difference between a legislator that wants to stick an ultrasound up a woman’s vagina as a way to limit abortion, and a legislator that wants to prohibit free speech and exercise of religion by parents.

    Banning a bad idea with a bad bill.

    But California will probably do it.

  • Clockwork

    Fine let the APA ban it, not the government.

  • Bipolar Bear

    Ah, why the hesitancy to ban something which has demonstrably been proven to have such a high failure rate, and that included among those failures are people who commit suicide?

    If a doctor had an 85% failure rate in treating his patients, would you allow him to keep his medical licence?

  • doug105

    A good start but you just know the kids will be shipped to other states or worse over seas were there will be fewer limits on what these people can do.

  • Dave

    @Sternflammende: Well, yeah. That was kind of my point. They aren’t licensed practitioners. It’s a lot harder to ban what they do.

  • blogshag

    This is really sick and has to stop. It’s child and adult mental abuse!

  • B

    No. 7 · Clockwork wrote, “I swear somedays I cannot tell the difference between a legislator that wants to stick an ultrasound up a woman’s vagina as a way to limit abortion, and a legislator that wants to prohibit free speech and exercise of religion by parents. Banning a bad idea with a bad bill. But California will probably do it.”

    The bill, requires informed consent and that the patient be specifically told that expert opinion is that this “therapy” is a form of quackery. It forbids it being forced on people under the age of 18.

    It does not prohibit “free speech and exercise of religion by parents.” The parents can still yell at their gay offspring and call them “sinners” (with the exaggerated ‘s’ and ‘n’ sounds typical of fire-and-brimstone preachers, if desired). Their gay offspring similarly have a legal right to yell back. It does not in any way stop a minister from trying to “pray away the gay” by invoking Jesus, Baal, Dagon, Wotan, Jupiter, or Zeus. He just better not pretend to be a licensed psychotherapist while doing it. Nor does it stop a child from praying that the capital of California is Los Angeles, if that’s what the kid wrote down on a test. If the kid tries to pray loudly in class just as the test results are about to come back, the child would be well advised to learn that “freedom of religion” does not mean “freedom from laughter.”

  • Riker

    I’m in two minds on this. I have the utmost respect for freedom of speech, religion and assembly. They have the right to practice their terrible faith. However, it is demonstrably harmful.

    I think the approach of banning it for minors and requiring informed consent for adults is probably the best way to go, sort of like cigarettes. Minors can’t buy them, and they include warning labels for adults.

  • Steve

    Medical professions are highly regulated. Many of the regulations are, specifically, to prevent harm to patients. In some areas (e.g., pharmaceuticals) each new therapy must be tested and approved _before_ being offered to clinical patients. In others, therapies that are found to be harmful, must be withdrawn from being offered. Psychology is one of the latter areas.

    The list of medical professional associations that have found “ex-gay” therapy to be harmful is long, includes all of the major widely-recognized associations. The list of associations that support “ex-gay” therapy is very short, and includes only small organizations made up for the purpose. The reputable journals have many peer-reviewed articles on the subject, which almost uniformly find either that the therapy does harm, or that it does not work at all.

    The usual criteria for banning a harmful therapy entirely, appear to be fully satisfied by “ex-gay” therapy.

  • AS


    Sadly there isn’t enough regulation, homeopathy is still popular and has not one ounce of prove it has ever worked yet they get to flog their bottled water at high prices to people stupid enough to believe the hype.

    The ex-gay therapy is nothing more than brain washing.

  • Valeria Mariscal

    Belize!Well,just be yourself:) What’s the problem here.Just be yourself hun,ok:) Good!That California is passing this law to ban this therapy so called Ex-Gay.All it does is corrupt society,and it makes people live a double life,and the spread of insicurities and hate thoards the LGBT and all.

  • Valeria Mariscal

    Besides people,as a christian myself i can say that GOD loves us all,ok:) Just as how we are.It’s hard for me because being transexual and christian is not easy.Especialy coming from conservative,christian and mexican family,but you know what there is hope,and like i said before,just be yourselves,ok:)

  • Queer Supremacist

    Not good enough. This bill just requires consent for parents. It needs to be banned altogether, with those who practice it thrown into jail.

    Band-aid regulations like these are not the answer. This is outright fraud, and it is well within the purview of local, state and federal governments to prosecute fraud. No gay person should have to suffer through this quackery.

Comments are closed.