Today, the California Senate will consider SB 1172, a bill that prevents children from being sent to ex-gay therapy and requires all adult clients of the therapy to sign an informed consent form outlining its harms and ineffectiveness. The legislation is the first of its kind, but could serve as important model to protect children in all states from the stigmatizing trauma of trying to repress their sexual orientation.
On Friday, CNN did some excellent reporting on the bill and the therapy in question. One segment featured the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Ted Lieu (D), as well as American Prospect’s Gabriel Arana, who himself is an ex-gay survivor. Then, Anderson Cooper 360 highlighted another ex-gay survivor, Ryan Kendall, and confronted his therapist, the infamous Joseph Nicolosi. Nicolosi claimed he couldn’t even remember having Kendall as a patient, even though Kendall has been a very vocal proponent of gay rights, including testifying against Proposition 8. Watch the segments:
These two reports are worth noting because they both avoided significant pitfalls that plague much of the media coverage around ex-gay therapy. One major problem, as epitomized by a poorly defended NPR report last year, is that reporters often create a false balance, calling ex-gay therapy “controversial” and treating the topic like it’s still open for debate. The other significant problem is that the voices of ex-gay survivors are often not included. In both of these reports, CNN included survivors and avoided false balance by focusing on the scientific reality that the therapy is harmful and ineffective.
Legislation like Sen. Lieu’s bill, supported by appropriately framed reporting like CNN’s, could be the key to closing the book on this ugly anti-science invention of anti-gay activists.