California Gov. Jerry Brown just signed into law a ban on ex-gay therapy for people under the age of 18, and conservative groups are already threatening to sue on behalf of the harmful treatment. Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel claimed today that the suit is necessary because he believes the law will harm children:
STAVER: The California governor and legislature are putting their own preconceived notions and political ideology ahead of children and their rights to get access to counseling that meets their needs. A number of minors who have struggled with same-sex attraction have been able to reduce or eliminate the stress and conflicts in their lives by receiving counseling of their choice which best meets their needs and religious convictions. This bill will harm children, stress families, and place counselors in a catch-22, because they will be forced to violate their licensing ethical codes.
Not only is there no research to support his claim that children benefit from ex-gay therapy, which actually adds to the stigma LGBT youth experience, but there is an epidemic of homeless youth because of family rejection, which the false promise of conversion therapy reinforces. Christopher Rosik, president of the ex-gay professional network NARTH, has promised the organization will support the legal challenge:
ROSIK: NARTH is saddened but not surprised by this unprecedented legislative intrusion and will lend its full support to the legal efforts to overturn it. [...] We fully anticipate that activist groups like Equality California will be back next year to see what further erosions of parental rights and professional judgment politicians and mental health associations will authorize in California and other states. Counselors adhering to traditional values cannot be blamed for wondering what other practices disliked by these activists are going to be targeted as “unprofessional conduct” in the future, particularly in states that have legalized same-sex marriage.
Incidentally and unsurprisingly, Staver is the featured speaker at NARTH’s convention next month. Contrary to NARTH’s delusions, offering ex-gay therapy is already “unprofessional conduct” according to psychotherapy professionals. Parents are not entitled to the right to subject their children to harmful, stigmatizing treatments; California lawmakers have made the right decision to protect young people.