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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?