Controversial “gay conversion” therapy will no longer be used in California to treat children 18 and under who seek to change their same-sex attraction to heterosexual attraction.
Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a Bill prohibiting state licensed therapists to engage in treatments intended to assist gay and lesbian kids to change their sexual preference, a law that comes into effect on January 1, 2013.
Proponents of the new law argue that therapies designed to alter a minor’s sexual orientation have been scientifically shown to be ineffective. Homosexuality as a psychiatric diagnosis was completely removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health in 1986, and in 2005 the American Psychiatric Association rejected the proposition that therapy could be useful for those who wished to “go straight”.
In 2007 Professors Stanton Hope from the prestigious Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois and Mark Yarhouse from Regents University in Virginia Beach joined forces in a study to test the APA’s theory that therapy was of no use.
Thirty-five of their original 98 participants dropped out almost immediately, leaving 65 research subjects at the conclusion of the study. The data was obtained through the organization called Exodus International, a Christian group whose mandate is to give homosexuals “freedom through Christ”.
Drs. Hope and Yarhouse published their results, finding that 23% of their group reported no change, 30% opted for celibacy, 20% embraced their orientation, while 23% reported they were “cured” with no harmful psychological aftermath.
However, critics say their lack of scientific rigour suggests their research is flawed and unreliable. Others say that their results do show behavioral changes, which are different from changes in sexual orientation.
What exactly is conversion therapy? It has been described as encompassing intrusive aversion treatments, drug therapy, Christian informed psychoanalysis, and spiritual intervention. Critics say the treatment brings on shame, grief, and anxiety causing patients to suffer depression and increased suicidal tendencies.
Critics of the new law have already filed lawsuits challenging the legislation on the basis that it breaches constitutionally guaranteed rights, such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion. They say the law is a disgusting abuse of government powers and a tyrannical interference with parental rights, who alone should determine how to help their child.
Until the law is overturned, a result that I believe is highly unlikely, therapists who continue to practice “gay to straight” therapy will be disciplined for unprofessional conduct.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang