Ban on Ex-Gay Therapy for Minors Passes California Senate


A bill that would prevent under 18s being forced into so-called ex-gay therapy passed the California Senate on Wednesday.

The legislation, the first of its kind in the US, was advanced by 23 votes to 13. The bill must now be approved by the General Assembly and then signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.

Introduced by Senator Ted Lieu, (SB 1172) would limit California’s health professionals from engaging in so-called sexual orientation change efforts, sometimes known as conversion or reparative therapy, with minors.

The legislation as passed by the Senate states:

865.1. Under no circumstances shall a mental health provider engage in sexual orientation change efforts with a patient under 18 years of age, regardless of the willingness of a patient, patient’s parent, guardian, conservator, or other person to authorize such efforts.

The legislation also declares a government interest in opposing any form of change therapy, labeling such therapy unnecessary and unscientific.

The legislation covers only licensed medical professionals and so would not explicitly address religious sexual orientation change efforts, though would appear to take a strong position against such practices within the state.

“Being lesbian or gay or bisexual is not a disease or mental disorder for the same reason that being a heterosexual is not a disease or a mental disorder,” Senator Lieu said in a statement. “The medical community is unanimous in stating that homosexuality is not a medical condition.”

Indeed, the American Psychological Association, having convened a Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation to conduct an exhaustive assessment of peer-reviewed studies into change efforts, concluded that efforts to change sexual orientation have negligible results and also risk patient harm. Patients subjected to ex-gay therapy have reported depression, decreased self-esteem, social withdrawal, substance abuse, self-harm and some have even attempted suicide.

The American Psychiatric Association also published a position statement in March of 2000 stating that it “opposes any psychiatric treatment such as reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder.”

The American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, and the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists have all issued similar statements against sexual orientation change efforts.

SB 1172 has received broad support from a number of groups including Equality California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Mental Health America of Northern California, Gaylesta, and Lambda Legal.

“Too many young people have taken their own lives or suffered lifelong harm after being told, falsely, by a therapist or counselor that who they are is wrong, sick or the result of personal or moral failure,” said Clarissa Filgioun, Equality California Board President. “Legislative action is long overdue to end the abuse of sexual orientation change efforts and for the state to fulfill its duty to protect consumers–especially youth–from therapeutic misconduct.”

The bill’s main opposition has come from NARTH, a California organization that touts itself as a secular body that, contrary to all evidence, avows the effectiveness of change therapy. However, NARTH’s opposition arguments — mostly hinging on the idea that this bill represents a blow to parental rights because, apparently, parents should be able to subject their children to unproven sexual orientation change efforts — has so far failed to gain traction.

Dr. Robert Spitzer, the author of a 2001 study often cited by groups like NARTH to support their sexual orientation change ideas, recently issued another call to retract his study because, he said, it failed to demonstrate any evidence of actual change among participants. He also apologized to the gay community for the potential abuses the study may have allowed for.


Related Reading:

Ex-Mormon Felt Suicidal Over Ex-Gay Therapy (VIDEO

Rachel Maddow Takes on Ex-Gay Therapy (VIDEO)

Bachmann Clinic Again Caught Using Gay Cure Therapy

Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to Joe Houghton.


Lydia D.
.4 years ago

The irony of this law is that if you work in a mental hospital in adolescent care, the kids are constantly come down on for "acting out", that is using their sexuality to deflect from their emotional pain. One of the fun features of the human brain is its ability to escape into fantasy, dream, and sexuality when the pain of living is too intense. The not fun job of the mental hospital is to get the kid to admit to his/her pain and sense of powerlessness and release it, find actual solutions to boring, achey problems rather than running to the more fun act of trying to seduce the therapist. The human feels that once the love of the therapist is obtained, the pain will go away forever. But, it is a situation of no pain, no gain. The kid must actually recover his/her power by knowing that it feels horrible that they have had no right to say, pick up a guitar and play it. Then they must work, pay for the guitar, put in the hours of practice and feel the satisfaction of playing the music.

So, there's one example of how a kid moving beyond sex can be healthy. The same logic of the brain occurs when the kid wants sex from pretty much anyone else to avoid the void of not getting other needs met. Cuddling with her best friend might feel great, but she will not get gigs and pay the bills without the guitar work.

Lydia D.
.4 years ago

This treats kids like non-persons. They are not to have freedom of speech with an adult trained in therapy, When I was a kid, I looked at my priest inquisitively, wishing I could even begin to discuss sex.

Therapists are trained to make the relationsip between sex and emotions, which comes as a shock to psych students. It seems like an impossible subject to tackle without training in the use of psychotherapeutic techniques, but, like dreams, one may find a rich array of human emotions in the symbols of sex. To deprive the young of access to their feelings is to stunt their growth and that of society. Societies where feelings are explored from childhood have no serious crime, insanity or war.

To that purpose, religion has left sex open to discussion. I hate it when Rush Limbaugh calls straight women sluts, when Islam stones them. Of course sex is just about feelings and does not merit that kind of harsh treatment, but the fact is, to have a happy life you have to begin to make those associations. A kid can't tell the difference between the violet eyes of Liz Taylor being attractive, and the fact that she should love her gift for science and not worry that she has brown eyes. Kids are kids and should have access to trained adults for whatever they want to discuss.

A therapist will not normally strive for shame, but self-actualization, which is more than you can say for the people the therapist is tryng to defend the kid from by giving her critical thinking ski

Kassy Clem
Kassy C5 years ago

Hmm, comments wrapped with insults don't make it in my book. Goodbye lower order thinkers!

Duane B.
.5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia5 years ago

Kassy C, your level of miseducation and lack of understanding of the "gay pysche", as you call it, is laughable. Seriously, I was laughing my ass off. It's like you read a pyschologly article dated 1964 and believed it.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia5 years ago

Awesome news! It's a shame that people believe this practice actually helps anyone. I remember I was going to therapy for rape at a chruch and this was around the time I started to get feelings for my best friend at the time, whom I had been friends with since I was in 2nd grade and became my first girlfriend. I came out to her and she tried to tell me my rape was making me question my sexuality! Like seriously? I am 15 and I am trying to figure out why I like girls and I'm told it was because I was raped since one of my reasons for like girls at the time was "they are more gentle"? I am so glad I don't remember what she said, but I do remember she tried to "pray away the gay". Thank the gods I got real help for my truama because she was humble enough to admit that my case was outside her abilities.

Robert K.
Robert K5 years ago

Anita, I'm a straight male and think of lots of things besides sex. And so do all the gay people I know.

Robert K.
Robert K5 years ago

Kassy made this ridiculous comment:

"Hey smarty pants. I've got news for you--animals are supposed to EVOLVE--Especially humans."

I thought you people didn't believe in evolution. But have you given any thought to the fact that humans can now be cloned or embryos created in a Petri dish and implanted, and maybe gay is the natural result of evolution beyond the current "normal"? Perhaps gay is the next step in evolution.

Chew on that, fool.

Redgie H.
Redgie H5 years ago

Kassy C,
AIDS was "invented"? Disease is caused by imbalanced thoughts and emotions?
Yeah, and the tooth fairy is the spirit of a dentist who still needs to collect 30 million more teeth to get into heaven.
Seriously, kid, you need to have a talk with your science teacher or the school nurse. Care2 can be a brutal place to receive an education.

Anita Wisch
Anita Wisch5 years ago

Kassy C. -
You say "If one is to understand the "gay psyche," one would want to notice the behavior of both Lesbians and gay men. Most are obsessed with their sexuality, which tends to permeate their entire psyche, emotions, mental attitudes and lifestyle. It is tho they themselves, feel uncomfortable about their choice.

Really??????? Have you EVER been around "straight males"? That is all THEY think of!

Then, the words you use at the end of your paragraph just show how little you understand about sexuality........"their choice". Did you "choose" to be attracted to men? If that was actually a choice, could/would you change it and be attracted to women?

Enough said........