The National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) is rabidly fundraising in an attempt to block a California bill that would limit how ex-gay therapy could be offered in the state. The bill, SB 1172, would prevent minors from receiving ex-gay therapy and require all interested adults to sign an informed consent form that describes how the therapy is harmful and ineffective. NARTH’s latest email today features a list of legal “concerns” from the anti-gay Pacific Justice Institute that are incredibly easy to debunk:
‘CONCERN’: This bill strictly bans counselors from telling young people that it is possible to overcome same-sex attractions and feelings–even if the minor or their parents seek out this type of counseling.
REALITY: Given that it’s not possible to “overcome same-sex attractions and feelings,” the bill simply requires that counselors not lie to clients in order to sell them a bill of goods.
‘CONCERN’: It mandates a new government form that adults must be given before a counselor or therapist can talk to them about “changing” their sexual orientation. The form would strongly discourage anyone from attempting such a change.
REALITY: Discouraging people from harmful therapy by accurately informing them about it is a good thing.
‘CONCERN’: It imposes an absurd government orthodoxy that insists it is possible to change one’s gender, be bisexual, or go from straight to gay, but it is dangerous and not really possible for an LGBT person to become straight.
REALITY: That “absurd government orthodoxy” happens to also be reality. People who are trans don’t “change” their gender — they actualize it, bisexuality exists, and nobody has ever posited the idea that sexual orientation can change in other directions. People just come out.
‘CONCERN’: It blames efforts to change sexual orientation for gay suicides, substance abuse, and even relationship problems.
REALITY: The extent to which ex-gay therapy causes harm cannot be overstated.
‘CONCERN’: It suggests government intervention in families that do not fully embrace their teens’ sexual choices.
REALITY: Being gay isn’t a “sexual choice” any more than being straight is. The intervention is to protect teens from trauma that could haunt them for the rest of their lives.
‘CONCERN’: It creates unprecedented legal liability for psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, counselors, social workers and others who suggest that it is possible to change one’s sexual orientation.
REALITY: Health professionals should be liable for peddling false claims and harmful treatments.
‘CONCERN’: In short, the bill violates freedom of speech, the right to privacy, and family autonomy.
REALITY: The state of California has every right to regulate health standards for the protection of its citizens. Ex-gay therapy is a service that is sold, not a personal liberty.
Perhaps in the long run, the most valuable aspect of this bill will ultimately be how it shines light on the motives and claims of the ex-gay movement. If these are the best arguments they can offer to defend their promotion of stigmatizing, self-hating counseling, then they may well be helping to accelerate their inevitable demise.