Taking Back America By Taking Back Our Schools
In recent months an almost unbelievable story has unfolded in the State of California. Unless it is blocked by a court injunction, a new law in California (SB 1172) will prohibit any licensed therapist from providing therapy to minors to help them deal with their unwanted same-sex attraction.
If this new law goes into effect, the human consequences will be tragic. It would mean that many young people in California who want help in dealing with unwanted same-sex attraction, and who could be helped, will not be able to receive that help. This would be bad enough, but there are other troubling implications as well. SB 1172 is a direct assault on parental rights to provide the healthcare they believe is best for their children. It is also an assault on the principle that public policy should be based on solid science to the maximum extent possible.
The sponsor of the bill, Senator Ted Lieu, argues that this treatment, often called reorientation therapy, should be prohibited because it is based on “junk science” and inflicts harm on patients. In Lieu’s mind, the potential for harm is so great that these adolescents must be protected by the state even from their own parents who want to help them. In fact, he proudly brags that one of his primary goals is to do just that. A majority of California legislators agree that the state knows better than parents what is best for their children.
While Senator Lieu and supporters of the bill claim that it is based on scientific and clinical evidence, this is not the case. They do cite statements from mental health professional associations, but they are cited in ways that can be misleading unless one understands the full context. For example, most of these statements do not refer to individuals experiencing unwanted same-sex attraction who are actively seeking help for this condition.
The reality is that this bill flies in the face of strong scientific and clinical evidence that some people can and do change their sexual orientation and that most of those people (though certainly not all of them) do so with help from the therapy that would be banned for adolescents. An excellent survey of 125 years of this research and clinical evidence was completed in 2009 by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). This survey demonstrated conclusively that sexual orientation can change and that there is no unusual risk associated with this therapy.
While it is understandable how someone not actually familiar with the facts might be confused by Lieu’s claims, he and his colleagues and Governor Jerry Brown cannot use that excuse. During the debates on SB 1172, ample testimony and other evidence was provided to them by experts in the field. These included therapists who are successfully treating both minors and adults with unwanted same-sex attraction who have been helped by this therapy.
How is it, then, that SB 1172 became law?
Politics, not science and clinical experience, drove this legislation – specifically, the political agenda of homosexual activist groups. To accomplish their objectives they must continue to perpetuate and promote the myth that homosexuality is innate and immutable, meaning that homosexuals are “born that way” and therefore cannot change. The reality is that no scientific evidence supports this position, and no credible researchers in the field (many of whom are themselves openly homosexual) make this claim. On the other hand, as noted above, there is strong scientific and clinical evidence that homosexuals are not “born that way.” (For a discussion on the true nature of homosexuality, see the FWI policy briefs “What You Need to Know About Homosexuality” and “Unwanted Same-Sex Attraction Can Be Successfully Treated.”)
With this legislative victory in California, homosexual activists are now pushing to enact similar laws in other states. A similar bill has been introduced in Pennsylvania and two legislators in New Jersey have announced that they are preparing to introduce legislation there. Legislators in other states are reportedly looking at doing the same.
Enactment of this law in California, however, may well prove costly to homosexual activists in the long run. Its passage has energized conservatives generally, including those concerned about unwarranted government encroachment on the rights of parents. The law also opens up opportunities to educate the public and policymakers about the true nature of homosexuality and the therapeutic options for dealing with unwanted same-sex attraction. With greater public awareness, parents in states like New Jersey will be easier to mobilize against similar legislation.
Moreover, two lawsuits to block this bill in California already have been filed. Plaintiffs in these lawsuits include parents of children who had been receiving the now unlawful therapy and who know that it is helping them. The more formal rules of evidence and procedures in a court of law will ensure the real facts on reorientation therapy are set forth in a forum that is less political than the current California legislature.
All of these developments undercut the efforts of the homosexual activists to perpetuate the “born that way” myth. The increased public education on the nature of homosexuality and effectiveness of therapy means that more adolescents with unwanted same-sex attraction will ultimately be helped in other states. This more aggressive education effort in the U.S. also inevitably will undercut efforts of homosexual activists to ban reorientation therapy at the international level. If you live outside of the U.S., you should be aware that there are international movements to enact similar therapy bans; an example is a statement from the Pan American Health Organization calling for the criminalization of reorientation therapy.
Family Watch will keep you informed of developments on this issue and will continue to provide resources to help you counteract any proposed laws like California’s SB 1172 from being passed where you live.
FWI Director of Policy and Research
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