You wake up in the morning and scramble out of bed. You throw on your favorite jeans, pull a T-shirt over your head and slip on your sneakers. You grab your English paper from the printer and your lunch from the kitchen, and head out to your car. As you’re getting in, you remember, you forgot to choose your sexual orientation.
Now I’m sure you’re confused. You can’t choose your sexual orientation; you can’t change it either.
For years therapists have been using counseling and psychotherapy in attempts to eliminate an individual’s sexual desires for members of their own sex. This conversion therapy has been practiced nationwide, largely by religious institutions.
In 1997 the American Psychological Association condemned this practice by passing a resolution affirming basic principles regarding treatments to alter sexual orientation.
The ADA states that “homosexuality is not a mental disorder and the APA opposes all portrayals of lesbian, gay and bisexual people as mentally ill and in need of treatment due to their sexual orientation.”
In May, the California Senate passed a bill that would regulate therapies attempting to change a child’s sexual orientation.
Senate Bill 1172 stated that it would “prohibit a mental health provider, as defined, from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts, as defined, with a patient under 18 years of age. The bill would provide that any sexual orientation change efforts attempted on a patient under 18 years of age by a mental health provider shall be considered unprofessional conduct and shall subject the provider to discipline by the provider’s licensing entity.”
The Senate got this right, but they are just 15 years late. Nobody should be allowed to force his prejudices on another person, much less upon a minor.
On Sept. 30, Governor Jerry Brown signed this bill into law, making California the first state to ban conversion therapy for minors.
The bill prohibits guardians from forcibly subjecting a minor to such therapies. Children are extremely impressionable, and a child should not suffer for a decision made by a misguided adult.
The American Psychiatric Association stated “the potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.”
It also stated that many patients who have undergone reparative therapy say they were inaccurately told that “homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction.”
This practice is dangerous, especially for those who are forced to go through treatment. This bill is not promoting a pro-gay agenda; it is trying to protect the safety of children. The next step is to ban conversion therapy altogether.
Conversion therapy does not cure homosexuals; rather it hurts children. It denies individuals their right to control their body, and it is not effective.
The bill’s opposition claims the therapies’ objective is to maximize heterosexual potential while “resolving” the patient’s homosexual feelings. They believe the law infringes on their civil rights, limiting their freedoms of religion, speech and privacy.
The First Amendment does not exist so adults can subject children to dangerous therapies, but to protect all citizens from unfair government restrictions.
The bill does not bar an individual’s ability to pray, or prevent speech against homosexuality. It merely serves as a preventative measure so impressionable children do not experience long-term issues due to a guardian’s selfish intentions.
Although this therapy is wrong, and a malicious sham, it is not within the government’s power to prevent consenting adults from going through such therapies. However, it is the responsibility of the government to protect minors from therapies that could potentially harm them.
United States citizens must always defend their religious liberties, because freedom of religion is an essential part of a free society. But this freedom, and these rights, should not extend to those who aim to manipulate the law’s religious tolerance in order to influence children.
In short, Brown’s action is a step forward in protecting children from emotional abuse, not denying them of their religious freedom.
It is necessary for Americans to distinguish the difference between freedom of religious practices and damaging practices used under the scapegoat of the First Amendment. Claiming that conversion therapy falls under such amendments is distorting American’s true individual liberties.
You have the power to change many things in your life. You can change your favorite sports team. You can change your profession, your political party and even your religion. You cannot, however, change your sexual orientation, and no one should attempt to change that for you. California put a law in place that should not even be necessary, but will now prevent someone from imposing impossible change on you.