The state of California is inching closer to being the first in the nation to ban “gay cure” therapy for teenagers.
Just in case you’re a little unclear, “gay cure” therapy is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, and politicians supporting the measure to have it banned say that any attempt by a licensed therapist to change a child’s sexual orientation amounts to psychological abuse.
On Tuesday, the Democratic-controlled state Assembly voted 52-22 to approve a bill that prohibits “gay cure” therapy from being provided by licensed therapists to children under the age of 18. The bill is now Senate-bound, though they approved an earlier version of it in May. The Senate has to act on it before midnight Friday for the bill to be sent to the governor’s desk. Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, has not said whether or not he will sign the bill into law.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, says that “gay cure” therapy is damaging and abusive. “These non-scientific efforts have led in some cases to patients later committing suicide, as well as severe mental and physical anguish,” Lieu said in a press release hailing the vote. Ricardo Lara, an openly gay Democratic assemblyman from Los Angeles County, said the bill would protect “the next generation of Californians,” according to NBC News.
“And some of those are sissy boys,” Lara said. “And some of those sissy boys grow up to be Assembly members. And some of those sissy boys need help. And we are here to stand with those sissy boys.”
As per the wording of the bill, its passage would only affect state-licensed therapists and not religious organizations pushing so-called “anti-gay ministries,” pastors, counselors, and other self-styled “life coaches.” Some criticize the bill for not being powerful enough in this regard, while the bill’s more direct opponents criticize it of taking a child’s “well-being” out of the hands of their parents.
Lara Embry, a clinical psychologist who is married to actress Jane Lynch, wrote an op-ed for the LA Times in which she states that parents need to be “better educated about how to cope with a child who may be gay or gender nonconforming” rather than turning to supposed “gay cures.”