CA Senate committee passes bill to ban sexual orientation change efforts for minors

According to the Washington Post, a CA Senate committee voted to refer CA Senate Bill 1172 to the full Senate for a vote. SB 1172 would require practitioners of sexual orientation change efforts to get written informed consent from adult clients and prohibit such interventions for those under 18.

The bill defines SOCE as:

“Sexual orientation change efforts” means psychotherapy aimed at altering the sexual or romantic desires, attractions, or conduct of a person toward people of the same sex so that the desire, attraction, or conduct is eliminated or reduced or might instead be directed toward people of a different sex. It does not include psychotherapy aimed at altering sexual desires, attractions, or conduct toward minors or relatives or regarding sexual activity with another person without that person’s consent.

The bill is opposed by the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, as well as the CA Psychological Association, the CA associations of psychiatrists, clinical counselors and marriage and family therapists. The CPA testified on April 23, that “the statutory ban on types of therapy is not the right venue.” They also believe the bill micromanages the work of therapists. The CPA would favor a bill without an outright ban that required written informed consent.

I have concerns with the inclusion of the word “conduct” in the definition of SOCE. The 2009 APA report made a distinction between orientation and sexual orientation identity. Also, change of conduct is considered within the choice of the client. Therapists can ethically work with clients to change actions without making any effort to change attractions, if the client desires such change. This bill attempts to regulate the behavioral choices of citizens, something I oppose.

Although I agree with the CA professional associations and oppose the bill as written, I understand the urgency of those who support the bill. Too many teens are brought to therapists with the hope that some kind of therapy will change them. I also think NARTH has brought this on themselves via their irresponsible statements about sexual orientation and therapy over the years. I could definitely support a bill that would require therapists to inform clients and families about the lack of evidence to support the claims of SOCE therapists.