Lambda Legal Applauds "Reparative Therapy" Ban

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September 5, 2012

Take Action! If you live in California, ask Governor Brown to protect LGBT youth from dangerous psychological abuse. Call his office at 916-445-2841 and voice your support for SB 1172. Or email him and tell him to sign SB 1172 into law.

The California Assembly passed a bill yesterday that would prohibit mental health providers in the state from using dangerous methods to change the sexual orientation of minors. The methods are sometimes referred to as "ex-gay therapy," "conversion therapy" or "reparative therapy."

The initial Senate bill was authored by Senator Ted Lieu and co-sponsored by Lambda Legal, Equality California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Mental Health America of Northern California and Gaylesta.

Lambda Legal Deputy Legal Director Hayley Gorenberg says:

We applaud California legislators for passing this measure to prohibit mental health providers from employing harmful tactics in an attempt to change a young person's sexual orientation. So-called "reparative therapies" fail any credible scientific or therapeutic test, and serve only to traumatize those most vulnerable—our youth.

Efforts to change a young person's sexual orientation pose critical health risks, including depression, shame, decreased self-esteem, social withdrawal, substance abuse, self-harm and suicide. For minors, who are often subjected to these practices at the insistence of parents who either don't know or don't believe that the practice is harmful, the risks of long-term mental and physical health consequences are particularly severe.

Many professional organizations have issued cautionary statements opposing so-called "reparative therapies," including the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the National Association of Social Workers and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The groups point to the lack of any evidence of the efficacy of these methods and the potential of causing harm.

Proponents often cite a study by Dr. Robert Spitzer that appeared to validate "reparative therapies." But Spitzer recently repudiated the study and issued an apology to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.