"This 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."
Recently California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that will protect LGBT minors and their families by banning psychotherapy aimed to make LGBT teens “straight” and will take effect January 1, 2013. Senate Bill Number 1172 will prohibit licensed mental health professionals from using reparative or conversion therapies with clients under the age of eighteen. What this means is that health care professionals can not offer services that are aimed at changing the sexuality of gay, lesbian, transgender, or bisexual persons under the age of eighteen into heterosexual preferences.
Senate Bill Number 1172 only applies to licensed mental health professionals and affects their practices. This law does not apply to ministers or other groups that counsel teens, and these professionals may continue their practices that deal with gender and sexual correction. Any mental health providers in violation of the new ban would be subject to discipline by their respective state licensing boards and repercussions would be dealt within that board. Governor Brown has said that the therapies are "quackery" and have no basis in science or medicine. It seems that other politicians are listening to his message. Two New Jersey lawmakers have already begun drafting up similar legislation in their home state.
Not everyone is jumping on the band wagon and believe this is a step forward. Instead two religious groups have said they will sue in federal court in Sacramento to stop the law from taking effect, stating that it would infringe on their first amendment right and the equal protection rights of individuals to receive information that matches their personal and professional beliefs. In order to bring this to court and solidify their defense, they have to prove these therapies work and have evidence to back it up.
Mat Staver (chairman of Liberty Counsel) expressed his views and why he wants to see this brought to court before the law is put into effect in this statement:
“The California governor and legislature are putting their own preconceived notions and political ideology ahead of children and their rights to get access to counseling that meets their needs. A number of minors who have struggled with same-sex attraction have been able to reduce or eliminate the stress and conflicts in their lives by receiving counseling of their choice which best meets their needs and religious convictions. This bill will harm children, stress families, and place counselors in a catch-22, because they will be forced to violate their licensing ethical codes.
We are filing on behalf of mental health professionals who find themselves in a catch-22. This bill and the ethical codes of all of the licensing boards in California are on an inevitable collision course. The licenses of countless mental health professionals hang in the balance. This law undermines parental rights. Mental health decisions should be left to the patient, the parents, and the counselors – not to the government to license one viewpoint."