Thursday, August 30, 2012

California Bans Sexual Orientation Therapy for Minors

On Tuesday, California became the first state to pass legislation intended to ban reparative therapy intended to change sexual orientation in minors.The Bill passed the California State Assembly by a vote of 51-21.

One of the purposes of this Bill is to educate parents and adults that many of these therapies actually do more harm than good to the minors whose behavior they are attempting to alter.  While attempting to protect minors from these harmful practices, it is also necessary to educate adults so that they (hopefully) discontinue attempts to “curing” minors from their homosexual tendencies.  Many of these therapies cause detrimental effects to the patient’s physical and mental health, which then often leads to substance abuse and/or suicide.

Supporters of the Bill state that homosexuality is not a disease that can be cured through therapy, and as such minors should not be subjected to such treatment.  Furthermore, to allow such therapy, the patient must give informed consent before commencing such treatment; however, it has been stated that minors cannot give informed consent, and therefore cannot be subjected to this therapy no matter their parents’ or guardians’ wishes.

Hopefully, other states will follow the lead of California in this area.  Homosexuality is not a disease, no matter what others may contend.  Homosexuality was removed from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) in 1973.  This diagnosis was then replaced with a condition termed ego-dystonic homosexuality; however, under great pressure this was removed from the DSM in 1986, with only remnants of the condition being described in the section titled Sexual Disorders Not Otherwise Specified. (This article provides more information about mental health and homosexuality.) Even though homosexuality was at one time deemed a disease, it is no longer and, as such, nobody should be forced against their will to be treated.

With the passage of laws such as these, hopefully others will become aware of the negatives associated with such therapies, and no longer use such treatments whether they are allowed by law or not.  By forcing minors into such treatment, there is a chance the minors can be faced with serious harm to their physical and mental well-being.  Parents wishing to “cure” their children may end up unknowingly pushing them towards substance abuse or suicide.  With proper education and awareness, hopefully parents would choose the health of their child over their disapproval of their child’s sexual preferences.  Fortunately, for those parents that would still chose potentially harmful therapies, laws such as the one passed in California will protect the safety of the minors.

You can find the text of Bill 1172 here.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Chicken Sandwiches and Morality

According to recent news, it is now apparent that one’s choice in fast food restaurants is a declaration of one’s political, moral and/or religious views.  As has been widely covered in the news lately, Chick-fil-a has made a public stance against same sex marriage, basing their view on their interpretation of the Bible.  One should not be shocked that Chick-fil-a is expressing a viewpoint based on religious viewpoints, as Chick-fil-a has never hidden the fact that the company believed in and observed Christian teachings.  What is more surprising is that this fast food chain has recently been declared as the line for whether or not one supports same sex rights.

Yesterday in furtherance of this opinion, many Chick-fil-a’s were packed with a large contingent of “conservative Christians” in celebration of Chick-fil-a appreciation day.  Those that chose to patronize the restaurant yesterday were met with full parking lots and longer than usual waits for food.  The outpouring was said by many to be sign of support for Chick-fil-a’s values and stance against gay marriage.  Some were quoted as saying that they were merely supporting Chick-fil-a’s right to freedom of speech.

Still, many are now boycotting Chick-fil-a based entirely on their stance on same sex marriage.  Some restaurants are beginning to sell “Chick-fil-a alternatives” and there is a kiss-in planned for tomorrow at Chick-fil-a’s in many states.  One blogger has gone as far as reverse-engineering the Chick-fil-a sandwich in order to allow people to “get [their] fried chicken sandwich fix and keep [their] moral principles intact.”

In the end, Chick-fil-a is a fast food restaurant that many visit for their chicken sandwiches.  They are a privately owned business that has the same right to freedom of speech as the individuals who are complaining about the restaurant’s religious viewpoint.  Chick-fil-a’s religious beliefs have never been questioned as seriously as this, nor has any other fast food restaurant’s beliefs been questioned to this extent (at least to this author’s understanding).  

It is understandable that same sex marriage is a hot topic, especially in this day and age (and as such has been written about here on a number of occasions).  But, doing a simple Google news search for “Chick-fil-a” results in a surprising number of news items.  After all, this is a fast food restaurant, not a politician, court or religious entity.  To this author’s knowledge, one does not go to Chick-fil-a for a chicken sandwich and side of religious/moral teaching.  Many businesses in many industries surely have viewpoints that conflict with those of their customers; would these customers be so willing to boycott those businesses should they express their opinion?  The real issue here is not that Chick-fil-a has a conflicting opinion; it is that they had the conviction to express that viewpoint as was their right under the First Amendment.  Individuals certainly have the right to choose which businesses they patronize based on any criteria they see fit, but to place such high standards upon and affect the business of a simple fast food restaurant in such ways seems to be an overreaction.