Senate Approves Controversial Counseling Ban

Sacramento, CA – The California Senate today voted in favor of a groundbreaking bill designed to prohibit counselors and therapists from telling young people it is possible to change same-sex attractions.

The bill has sparked outrage from inpiduals who have overcome unwanted same-sex feelings sparked by childhood sexual abuse. It is also being opposed by Pacific Justice Institute, whose attorneys believe its blanket ban on certain types of counseling is unconstitutional. PJI has been working with ministries and professionals in the targeted fields to highlight the plethora of legal problems with the bill.

In a sign that the opposition to SB 1172 may be stronger than was anticipated by its sponsors, Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) and Equality California, the bill was amended for the fifth time late last week. The version of the bill passed today abandoned sweeping liability provisions for mental health professionals who do not affirm same-sex attraction and also deleted so-called informed consent provisions that would have applied to adult patients. The bill retains its most controversial provisions, however, banning mental health professionals from counseling minors in ways that would discourage same-sex or bisexual feelings. The new version of the bill also declares for the first time that the state has a compelling interest in protecting the “psychological well-being” of LGBT youth.

PJI Staff Attorney Matthew McReynolds has been coordinating PJI’s opposition to SB 1172 and participated in a televised debate with Sen. Lieu over the bill. McReynolds noted, “As long as this bill threatens to shame patients and silence counselors, therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists, we will vigorously oppose it. We cannot afford to let the state invade the counseling room or doctor’s office to dictate what views on sexuality are acceptable and unacceptable.”

The bill now moves to the state Assembly for consideration. Brad Dacus, the President of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, “We are one giant step closer to seeing one of the most chilling suppressions of speech yet in the never-ending LGBT push to silence opposition. This is clearly no longer about civil rights—it is about eradicating traditional values. Californians who care about what is happening with SB 1172 need to bombard their Assembly members with phone calls, faxes and in-person visits to urge no votes on SB 1172.”