On Tuesday, June 26, the California Assembly's Committee on Business, Professions, and Consumer Protection voted 5-2 in favor of Senate Bill 1172. The bill, introduced by California State Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), would prohibit mental-health professionals from trying to change the sexual orientation of minors who are under their care. The practice, known as "conversion therapy" or "reparative therapy," has long been documented as having devastating consequences for LGBT youth by trying to force them to become heterosexual. Some of the documented devastating effects of such "therapy" include depression, suicide, shame, social withdraw, substance abuse, and self-harm.
Across the United States, some mental health practitioners (both licensed and unlicensed) and right-wing religious leaders have led people to believe that gay men and lesbians can be "treated" for what they believe to be a mental defect. Many LGBT Americans have been subjected to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and in extreme cases gay males were castrated, which was legal in seven states as late as the 1970s.
In a June 26 press conference Ryan Kendall, now a college student, described how his life was destroyed by undergoing conversion therapy: "At the age of 16, I surrendered myself to the local department of health services. My life had become a nightmare. I lost my family and turned to a life of substance abuse, homelessness, and deep depression. No one should have to endure what I experienced. I was driven to the brink of suicide."
In an interview, Dr. Mary Strobbe, a professor of psychology at San Diego Miramar College who is very passionate on the subject, said:
Anyone who wants to enforce reparative therapy/conversion therapy or whatever label they wish to put on it to sugarcoat the trauma inflicted on the victims of such therapy should have to watch Clockwork Orange until they "get it."
I find it absolutely disgusting that it is necessary for lawmakers to get involved. I want to know: Who are the "professionals" involved in "converting" gays, especially given the scientific evidence refuting such practices? All the legitimate professionals involved in therapy would not engage in such behavior; they would consider it unethical.
Yes, one can find anecdotal evidence to support your position whatever it may be, but that is far from scientific or applicable to generalizing to the population. Are we now going to make all lefties righties, as we did 40-plus years ago? So much that is happening in this country makes me think we have taken more than two steps backward!
Just because one is a parent does not give them the right to "change" the essence of who a person is. Read a biology text about the development of sexual identity that occurs prior to birth.
Consider the case of David Reimer, whose parents attempted to raise him as a girl because of medical mishandling of a circumcision and the outcome. Is that not of significance to those who want to change a person's core identity?
A statement released by Equality California board president Clarissa Filgioun stated:
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 and who they love is wrong, sick or the result of personal or moral failure. It's outrageous that state licensed therapists in California continue engage in this discredited, damaging and discriminatory practice that has been uniformly rejected by medical science and it's time for the legislature to put a stop to this psychological abuse.
In an interview, openly gay California State Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San-Diego) said, "We need to protect our LGBT youth from deceptive therapies that are harmful to minors. This bill will provide awareness of the alternatives to and the potential harmful effects of sexual-orientation-change therapies, while also protecting children from these treatments."
Following the assembly vote, California State Senator Lieu said:
Under the guise of a California license, some therapists are taking advantage of vulnerable people by pushing dangerous sexual orientation-change efforts. ... These bogus efforts have led in some cases to patients later committing suicide, as well as severe mental and physical anguish. This is junk science and it must stop.
Being lesbian or gay is not a disease or mental disorder for the same reason that being a heterosexual is not a disease or a mental disorder. ... The medical community is unanimous in stating that homosexuality is not a medical condition.
Senate Bill 1172, which was co-sponsored by Equality California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Mental Health America of Northern California, Gaylesta, and Lambda Lega, will now head to the floor of the California Assembly, where it is expected to pass. The bill would be the first of its kind in the nation.