Opponents promise legal challenges to new laws protecting LGBT youth

BRODY LEVESQUE

Two recently approved measures creating protections for LGBT youth — one expanding rights for transgender students in California public schools, and another prohibiting gay conversion therapy on minors in New Jersey — have opponents promising to launch legal challenges to overturn the laws.

In New Jersey, attorney’s for Liberty Counsel said they will ask a federal court to block the law signed by Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) on Monday that prohibits licensed therapists from performing controversial gay-to-straight preparative therapy on gay youth.

“It’s unconscionable that Gov. Christie would sign this politically-motivated attack on New Jersey children and parents into law. He’s just torpedoed any chance he had at the White House in 2016,” said Matt Barber, Vice President of Liberty Counsel Action, in a statement to LGBTQ Nation.

“The connection between homosexual abuse and ‘gay identity’ is undeniable. This law would enslave children to an identity that they reject. Talk about depression and risk of suicide. This law means that if a girl or boy begins to experience unwanted same-sex attraction as a result of sexual molestation by the likes of a Jerry Sandusky, a counselor is legally prohibited from helping them resolve their unwanted attractions and reconcile those attractions with their values,” he said.

The bill passed both houses of the state Legislature with bipartisan support. Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Bergen, N.J), who sponsored the bill and is openly gay, described the therapy as “an insidious form of child abuse.”

The controversial practice has been dismissed by many prominent, mainstream health organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In California, the Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative legal group, has begun soliciting plaintiffs for a prospective lawsuit to be filed next year, when the new transgender student rights bill formally takes effect.

Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown (D-Calif.) signed the School Success and Opportunity Act into law, a landmark bill that requires public schools respect students’ gender identity and makes sure that students can fully participate in all school activities, sports teams, programs, and facilities that match their gender identity.

Critics have dubbed the measure the “co-ed bathroom bill” and charge that allowing students of one gender to use facilities intended for the other could invade the other students’ privacy.

Brad Dacus, President of Pacific Justice institute said his group stands “ready and willing to defend anyone who will be victimized as a result of this new law,” and is soliciting plaintiffs to challenge the law in court.

Other opponents have threatened to launch a ballot initiative to over turn the law.

“This is a predictable move by fringe groups that oppose all pro-equality measures and that historically have lacked the capacity to successfully execute similar efforts,” said John O’Connor, Executive Director of Equality California.

The California law is the first of its kind in the country and it is unclear how school districts will withstand likely legal challenges.

California was also the first state to ban conversion therapy for people under age 18. The law, signed by Brown on Sept. 29, 2012, was to take effect Jan. 1, 2013, but has been blocked because of a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.

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