With the California General Assembly soon to consider a bill to ban minors being exposed to gay cure therapy, religious conservative groups are mounting campaigns to try and persuade legislators to oppose the ban.
The religious right group Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), sending emails through the ex-gay affirming group PFOX, has kicked off its campaign against the legislation, known as SB 1172, with this false equivalency:
“As of today, it is legal in California to give hormone blockers to an 11 year-old boy in order to delay the onset of puberty, but it could soon be illegal for a 17 year-old with unwanted same-sex attractions to receive professional counseling, even with parental consent. This is an absolute travesty.”
This is important because it sets the tone of their argument: they believe that a child with gender dysphoria – a medically recognized condition – being given “hormone blockers” in order to delay the onset of puberty is the equivalent of exposing a teenager to potentially dangerous and certainly unproven reparative therapy to supposedly treat “same-sex attraction” which, despite their protestations, is not a pathology and has not been classed as such for decades.
After asking recipients to email their lawmakers to fight SB 1172, the PJI offers the following as reasons why it opposes the ban (nevermind that PFOX, with whom it is apparently very chummy, has a self-interest in allowing reparation therapy to continue because it bills itself as a “friends of ex-gays” group):
SB 1172 is an unprecedented attempt to silence professionals and people of faith who believe that it is possible to change same-sex attractions and feelings.
The key word here is that they “believe”–there’s no mainstream, peer-reviewed evidence to show that change is possible. Even if it were possible, the sanctioned response to sexuality-related anxiety, as condoned by mainstream medical bodies, is to affirm a person’s homosexuality as normal and as a healthy expression of human behavior. Ex-gay therapy, by its nature, hinges on the alternative: that there is something wrong with being gay–otherwise, why would you seek to cure it? It’s already a loaded proposition and thus any ex-gay therapist is incapable of neutrality.
The statement continues:
The bill outright prohibits counselors, therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and others from telling a sexually confused teenager or child that change is possible.
This is true, the bill would do that–and, again, with good reason: because there is no legitimate evidence to suggest that change is possible, never mind necessary.
Under SB 1172, it does not matter whether the young person seeks counseling on their own or has been the victim of a sex crime–reparative therapy would be prohibited
This unintentionally points out another strength of the legislation: that a young person would no longer run the risk of being victimized if they seek support from mental health professionals. Also, the “victim of a sex crime” tag tips Pacific Justice Institute’s hand as they subtly advance the lie that says that people are more likely to be gay if they were sexually abused at a young age. Not true, but very telling.
The ban even applies to professionals working for a church or ministry.
As it should: churches and ministries should in no way be dolling out medical treatment or mental health advice when they are not qualified to do so.
This approach silences free speech, invades privacy, takes away parental authority and officially blames professionals and people of faith for substance abuse, suicide, and relationship problems. The implications of this bill are chilling.
What the PJI lists above, relationship breakdowns, substance abuse and suicide, are exactly what ex-gay therapy has been known to cause. If the practitioner, who is attempting to cure something that does not need curing, and is doing so without the backing of the mainstream medical community, isn’t to blame for this, who is?
Also, that the bill invades privacy and takes away parental authority–rights are not unfettered, and exposing a child to ex-gay therapy is something the state has an interest in limiting because that action is tantamount to child abuse.
Lastly, the implications of the bill are not chilling. They are necessary protections against a particularly insidious form of religious zealotry.
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, the first of its kind in the US, passed 23 votes to 13 in the state Senate last month. It is believed the General Assembly has enough votes to pass the legislation and that Gov. Jerry Brown will sign, but voicing your support will be vital in ensuring the bill becomes law.
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