At the risk of bringing the roof down on my head...
The same California legislature that passed a law allowing minors to obtain abortions without any notice to parents, now has a bill pending that would prevent psychotherapists from providing services intended to alter a gay child’s orientation, even if parents want the therapy. From the San Francisco Chronicle story:
SB1172 by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance (Los Angeles County), would make it illegal for therapists and psychologists to provide so-called sexual orientation change therapy - also known as conversion or reorientation therapy - to minors and require them to obtain written consent from adults who wish to undergo the counseling. The bill cites a 2009 American Psychological Association report, which concluded this type of mental health therapy is “unlikely to be successful and involves some risk of harm,” including depression, thoughts of suicide and anxiety.
But what if the child doesn’t want to experience same sex attraction? And what if, in doing therapy about other issues, a shrink learns that the child has gay thoughts or feelings about which he or she unhappy and seeks help to control? Does the doctor have a duty to affirm the propriety of those feelings even if they distress the child? And what about freedom of the doctor/patient relationship? And what if it is a religious program, which these things tend to be: Does this law trump the First Amendment?
There are so many questions, and the imposition seems such a sledge hammer, that even notable mental health associations that oppose reparative therapy are against the bill as written:
But mental health groups are not ready to support the bill, even though most - including the American Psychological Association - formally oppose sexual orientation change therapy. Lieu told members of the committee, which passed the bill on a party-line vote with Republicans opposed, that he will amend the bill to address those concerns.
Tim Shannon, a lobbyist for the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, said Lieu should change SB1172’s definition of sexual orientation change therapy, currently any “psychotherapy aimed at altering the sexual or romantic desires ... toward people of the same sex.”
“If the bill were to say that it is unprofessional conduct to give therapy based on the premise that homosexuality is a disease or pathology, we would support it - we all believe it’s unprofessional,” Shannon said, adding that “currently it’s too broad and could capture activity” that could be beneficial to a patient.
I am certainly not arguing in favor of RT. At the very least, any parent desiring such therapy for their child should be required to sign that they gave fully informed consent knowing that mainstream mental health organizations are unanimous that the approach is wrong. But at some point, the question must be asked, who is responsible for raising the child? I mean good grief, parents can consent to tattoos that can last a lifetime, while some jurisidictions permit parents to consent to children who believe they are transgendered receiving hormones to prevent puberty to prepare for possible future sex reassignment surgery.
California increasingly thinks the state should raise children—certainly regarding the issues of abortion, sex education, contraception, some mental health matters, and now gay orientation—particularly regarding hot-button cultural controversies of particular importance to the reigning political ideology that enjoys near-total control over my state.
And if this becomes law, what next? Outlaw a pastor from counseling against the “sin” of homosexual behavior at the request of a parent, and prevent him or her from urging a child to pray to be relieved of such urges? Make it a form of abuse to bring such a matter up to a pastor or priest in the first place? How far should the state go?
Be careful how you answer, because what is good for the California goose could also be good for a socially conservative state gander, which might want to take the same tack but in the opposite direction. The state has no business interfering with parental upbringing of kids—absent criminal/DPSS-reportable abuse or neglect, or strong public health considerations, such as requiring vaccines for virulent communicable diseases before entering public school.