Supreme Court Won’t Weigh In on Gay ‘Cure’ Bans for Minors

Dramatic television re-enactment of what's happening in high school locker rooms all across America this very minute.California passed a law in 2012
that banned the use of “reparative therapies” on gay youths. That
is to say the state made it against the law for mental health
professionals to attempt to cure homosexuality for anybody under
the age of 18. They were the first state to do so and other states
have followed.

The law was subsequently challenged on First Amendment grounds
and defended by the state delcaring its authority to regulate the
activities of the mental health profession. Those defending the
right to engage in reparative therapies lost their challenges and
had asked the Supreme Court to take up the issue. Today the Supreme
Court turned them away, leaving intact California’s ban.
From the Associated Press

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that
California lawmakers properly showed that therapies designed to
change sexual orientation for those under the age of 18 were
outside the scientific mainstream and have been disavowed by most
major medical groups as unproven and potentially dangerous.

“The Supreme Court has cement shut any possible opening to allow
further psychological child abuse in California,” state Sen. Ted
Lieu, the law’s sponsor, said Monday. “The Court’s refusal to
accept the appeal of extreme ideological therapists who practice
the quackery of gay conversion therapy is a victory for child
welfare, science and basic humane principles.”

The law says professional therapists and counselors who use
treatments designed to eliminate or reduce same-sex attractions in
their patients would be engaging in unprofessional conduct and
subject to discipline by state licensing boards. It does not cover
the actions of pastors and lay counselors who are unlicensed but
provide such therapy through church programs.

As a gay man of a certain age, I have heard any number of horror
stories from men and women who have been exposed to this kind of
“treatment,” often involving absurd (smelling dog food) to painful
(electric shocks) attempts at aversion therapy. Having said that,
we should deeply concerned about the potential impacts of
professional policies in private fields being established by the
actions of politicized government legislative bodies. It wasn’t an
act of Congress that caused the American Psychological Association
(APA) to drop homosexuality from its list of mental disorders, even
if it was heavily lobbied and somewhat politicized decision (for
the time). The APA was ahead of the government anyway, given how
long it took for sodomy laws to be struck down.

The court may dismiss the First Amendment concerns here, but the
law is truly telling psychologists what they may and may not
discuss with their patients. And given that the law can’t affect
the behavior of unlicensed therapists anyway, California teens with
unaccepting parents may still find themselves shipped off to some
camp in the woods somewhere.

from Hit & Run

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