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28 April 2012

Praise: Ted Lieu Protecting California's Children

In February California State Senator Ted Lieu introduced senate bill 1172, to prohibit licensed psychotherapists from doing "sexual orientation change efforts" on children.  That is,
a physician and surgeon specializing in the practice of psychiatry, a psychologist, a psychological assistant, a psychiatric technician, a marriage and family therapist, a registered marriage and family therapist, intern, or trainee, an educational psychologist, a licensed clinical social worker, an associate clinical social worker, a licensed professional clinical counselor, or a registered clinical counselor, intern, or trainee
cannot attempt to change a person's sexual orientation, sometimes known as reparative therapy or pray away the gay.  This is the sort of therapy that the ex-gay groups like PFOX promote.

The reason that "psychiatric technician" is struck out above is because the bill was amended to remove it.  In California, a psychiatric technician is defined as persons (licensed in California by the Board of Vocational Nursing & Psychiatric Technicians) must practice under supervision in settings such as hospitals, correctional facilities, and residential care facilities; they cannot practice independently.  Since psychiatric technicians are under supervision, one hopes that they are also covered by sb 1172.

The wording of the rationale for the bill is particularly good.


 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) An individual’s sexual orientation, whether homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual, is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming. The major professional associations of mental health practitioners and researchers in the United States have recognized this fact for nearly 40 years.
(b) Sexual orientation change efforts pose critical health risks to lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, including confusion, depression, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, shame, social withdrawal, suicidality, substance abuse, stress, disappointment, self-blame, decreased self-esteem and authenticity to others, increased self-hatred, hostility and blame toward parents, feelings of anger and betrayal, loss of friends and potential romantic partners, problems in sexual and emotional intimacy, sexual dysfunction, high-risk sexual behaviors, a feeling of being dehumanized and untrue to self, a loss of faith, and a sense of having wasted time and resources. This is documented by the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation in its 2009 Report of the Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation.
(c) Recognizing that there is no evidence that any type of psychotherapy can change a person’s sexual orientation and that sexual orientation change efforts may cause serious and lasting harms, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American Academy of Pediatrics uniformly oppose efforts to change the sexual orientation of any individual.
(d) Minors who experience family rejection based on their sexual orientation face especially serious health risks. In one study, lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults who reported higher levels of family rejection during adolescence were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and 3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse compared with peers from families that reported no or low levels of family rejection. This is documented by Caitlyn Ryan et al. in their article entitled Family Rejection as a Predictor of Negative Health Outcomes in White and Latino Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Young Adults (2009) 123 Pediatrics 346.
(e) California has a compelling interest in protecting the lives and health of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.
Interestingly, this was written at least two months before Truth Wins Out published the letter from Dr. Robert Spitzer "officially invalidating his infamous 2001 study which claimed that some “highly motivated” homosexuals could go from gay to straight."
I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy. I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some “highly motivated” individuals.
My speculation is that bisexuals can enter into "therapy" and "change", but that change is still within the parameters of their original orientation.  As indicated in point (d), above, forcing this on someone who does not want to change, particularly a young person who is still trying to understand what their sexual orientation is, can be quite dangerous.  Telling a young person that they are wrong and must change who they feel like they are can lead to depression and sometimes to suicide.

Of course, hate groups like the Pacific Justice Institute are upset.
Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, is not mincing words. "I can honestly say this is one of the most outrageous, speech-chilling bills we have ever seen in California-and that's saying a lot," he said.
The main purpose of the bill, SB 1172, is to limit the ability of psychologists, therapists and other counselors to assist adult or minor clients with sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE). SB 1172 flatly bans SOCE for minors-regardless of the parents' or minors' wishes-and requires a new consent form for adults containing statements about sexual orientation that many counselors would dispute. The bill then creates significant liability for professionals who proceed with SOCE.
That liability strikes me as a good thing.  Protecting young people from destructive practices, like reparative therapy (SOCE) is what we should be doing.  The bills definition of SOCE is quite good.
(d) “Sexual orientation change efforts” means psychotherapy aimed at altering the sexual or romantic desires, attractions, or conduct of a person toward people of the same sex so that the desire, attraction, or conduct is eliminated or reduced or might instead be directed toward people of a different sex. It does not include psychotherapy aimed at altering sexual desires, attractions, or conduct toward minors or relatives or regarding sexual activity with another person without that person’s consent.
The bill isn't perfect.  Unlicensed therapists in California aren't covered at all.  But, it is a good start at limiting an industry that makes money by harming people.

By the bye, Senator Lieu has a very nice set of progressive achievements on his campaign website.  Lest one assume otherwise, he appears to be a heterosexual with a wife and two children.
Ted Lieu and family from his campaign website.

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