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California Assembly passes landmark bill to protect LGBT youth from reparative therapy

Wednesday, August 29, 2012
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Assembly on Tuesday voted 52 to 21 in favor of a bill that will protect LGBT youth from treatments by mental health practitioners who falsely claim to be able change their sexual orientation or gender expression.

Authored by Senator Ted Lieu, Senate Bill 1172 is co-sponsored by Equality California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gaylesta, Mental Health America of Northern California, Lambda Legal, and the Courage Campaign.

The bill will return to the Senate for a vote to concur in amendments made in the Assembly before proceeding to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.

This bill prohibits state-licensed mental health practitioners from engaging in abusive treatments that fraudulently claim to stop a young person from being LGBT, often referred to as reparative therapy.

Among the techniques used by SOCE (Sexual orientation change efforts) practitioners include the use of shame, verbal abuse, pornography, and aversion training.

Most mental health professionals claim SOCE treatments are not only ineffective but extremely dangerous, and can lead to anxiety, depression, feelings of worthlessness, and even suicide. They have been routinely rejected as ineffective and potentially harmful by medical, mental health, and child welfare organizations.

In 2009, the American Psychological Association reviewed published reports about treatments that claim to change a person’s sexual orientation and issued a report concluding that there is no evidence that these practices work and that they are based on a false belief that being gay is an illness or disorder.

Also in 2009, the American Psychological Association issued a statement advising “parents, guardians, young people, and their families to avoid sexual orientation change efforts that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder and to seek psychotherapy, social support, and educational services that provide accurate information on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support, and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth.”

“These dangerous, unscientific practices have caused too many young people to take their own lives or suffer lifelong harm after being told, falsely, that who they are and who they love is wrong, sick, or the result of personal or moral failure,” said Clarissa Filgioun, Equality California board president.

“We applaud the legislature, and in particular, Senator Ted Lieu, for putting a stop to the psychological abuse these misguided practitioners have inflicted on vulnerable youth and families,” she said.

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