HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania State Rep. Babette Josephs (D-Philadelphia) has introduced a bill that would ban mental health providers from offering “gay-to-straight” reparative therapy for minors.
Josephs’ bill comes less than two weeks after California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the nation’s first-ever law prohibiting licensed mental health professionals from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts of any kind for a minor patient, regardless of a parent’s willingness or desire to authorize participation in such programs.
Reparative therapy generally purports to change a person’s sexual orientation by using such techniques as aversion or psychoanalytic treatments or spiritual interventions.
“No reputable mainstream mental health association considers being gay, lesbian or bisexual a disease or mental illness. Yet, that is exactly the premise behind this kind of therapy – a wrong assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder that can be ‘corrected,'” Josephs said, in a statement.
“As homosexuality is not a disorder, so attempts to ‘convert’ the sexual orientation of anyone, particularly a minor, threatens the individual’s short- and long-term health and well-being,” she said.
Josephs noted that the potential negative effects of such treatments include depression, substance abuse, self-loathing and suicide.
“The very concept of ‘correcting’ homosexuality is dehumanizing and contrary to conventional societal norms. The fact that minors are forcefully subjected to this therapy that is not based in any scientific fact is unacceptable. Pennsylvania’s children deserve better,” Josephs said.
Josephs is a 14-term Democrat and longtime advocate for the LGBT community.
A Change.org petition supporting Josephs’ bill is here.