This weekend, California became the first state to ban therapy practices that attempt to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of minors. According to the new law, mental health professionals who attempt ”to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex,” for minors will be subject to discipline from the body that licenses them.
I had my own experience with a ‘therapeutic’ school (and then wrote a show about it!) that used coercive treatments on those of us that were gender non-conforming or ‘sexual deviants.’ I am thrilled that California is taking steps to end this practice, and I hope that other states pass similar legislation. Unfortunately, since many families send their children to programs in other states for treatment, banning reparative therapy in one state isn’t enough– but it’s an important first step.
I’m curious to see how this ban actually plays out, because many ‘schools’ offering this treatment don’t present themselves as mental health practitioners and are skilled at dodging the regulations of the psychiatric industry. Will there be a penalty for practitioners of reparative treatments that are not mental health professionals?
The new law goes into effect on January 1st, 2013– let’s hope the next 3 months don’t have lots of ‘concerned’ parents in CA sending their kids off in a last-ditch attempt to ‘pray away the gay.’