Monday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Appeals Court Backs Coaches in Disclosure of Students Sexual Orientation, Education Week

A federal appeals court has ruled that two Texas high school softball coaches are immune from a student’s privacy lawsuit because there was no clearly established law barring school officials from discussing a student’s private matters, including her sexual orientation, with the student’s parent.

The 2-1 decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in New Orleans, comes in the case of a mother who sued the Kilgore Independent School District and various officials, alleging that the two softball coaches confronted her 16-year-old daughter about whether she was a lesbian and then “outed” her during a meeting with the parent

Texas Sentences for 17 Year-old Murderers Fine as They Are: No Need for Special Session Call, Grits for Breakfast

So far, Gov. Perry has resisted adding anything to the special session call besides redistricting and Grits’ must admit I’m grateful. Unless he surprises me and put warrants for cell-phone location data on the list (which he should), not much good can come of any of the criminal-justice topics the Governor is most likely to add to a special session which some, like Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, would like to fill with right-wing red meat.

One surprising omission so far has been the failure of the 83rd Legislature to establish a legal punishment for 17-year old capital offenders. Texas treats them as adults but the US Supreme Court considers them juveniles. So SCOTUS rulings banning the death penalty and life without parole (LWOP) for juveniles have left Texas with no legal punishments on the books for 17-year olds charged with capital murder. They can still be charged with “regular” murder, which could get them a sentence of up to 99-life, but with the eventual possibility of parole

Data: Juvenile Detentions Down, The Tribune-Democrat

HARRISBURG — The number of accused juvenile delinquents taken from their homes by court order dropped more than 29 percent from 2007 to 2011, government data shows.

While the trends are encouraging, advocates note that Pennsylvania had plenty of ground to make up.

Through 2010, the most recent year in which national data is available, Pennsylvania had the highest rate of juveniles in out-of-home detention, according to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Justice. And while most other big states had seen the number of juveniles placed in out-of-home detention decrease over the decade leading up to 2010, the number went up in Pennsylvania.

California Legislature Seeks to Ban Same-Sex Attraction Therapy for Children

http://gayambassador.blogspot.com/2013/02/what-is-unwanted-same-sex-attraction.html

Senator Ted Lieu (D-Redondo Beach) introduced SB 1172 in February 2012 after seeing a news piece about the harmful effects of trying to change a child’s sexual orientation.  Young people have committed suicide because of therapy to change their sexual orientation.  Serious harm is a very real possibility with these types of therapies.

SB 1172 would “prohibit a mental health provider, as defined, from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts [SOCE], 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.”  SOCE is also known as “reparative therapy” and “conversion therapy.”

The American Psychological Association recommends affirmative therapies for adults and teens seeking help coping with their sexual orientation.  The APA found that Sexual Orientation Change Efforts did not result in lasting change in sexual orientation and could have harmful effects so as low self-esteem and depression.

SB 1172 sparks a new debate over a parent’s right to choose what is best for their children and the state’s need to intervene to protect children.  As parents can be required to put their young children in car seats and be prohibited from buying alcohol or tobacco for their children, I see this bill as following on the side of laws to prevent harm to children.  However, whether or not it will pass into law remains to be seen. If it does become a California law, will other states follow suit?