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.
You can find the article from Jurist explaining the Bill here.
You can find the Sexual Orientation Change 'Therapy' Fact Sheet here.