A resolution introduced today by Rep. Jackie Speier would encourage states to act, as California already has, against so-called LGBT conversion practices that seek to change a child’s sexual orientation.
The Stop Harming Our Kids (SHOK) resolution, cosponsored by Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and David Cicilline, D-R.I., goes hand-in-hand with Speier’s investigation of whether federal funds have been spent on such practices, which have been rejected as scientifically invalid by the American Psychiatric Association and other mental health groups for decades.
“Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered is not a disease to be cured or a mental illness that requires treatment. Any effort to change sexual orientation is not medicine, it’s quackery, and we should not be supporting it with taxpayer dollars,” Speier, D-San Mateo, said in a news release.
“California led the nation on this issue when Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1172, a law that prohibits state licensed mental health professionals from engaging minors in these harmful and abusive therapies,” she said. “Governor Brown did the right thing and I am urging all states to consider similar laws.”
Brown signed the state law in late September; conservatives filed a federal lawsuit a few days later, and a motions hearing is scheduled for Friday morning in federal court in Sacramento.
“This law places the state between the client and the counselor,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, which is representing the plaintiffs. “This law intrudes on a client’s fundamental right of self-determination to seek counseling that aligns with his/her religious and moral values. This law forces counselors to overrule the will of their clients who choose to prioritize their religious or moral values above unwanted same-sex sexual attraction.”
Speier’s SHOK resolution encourages each state to take steps to protect minors from efforts that promote or promise to change sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, based on the premise that homosexuality is a mental illness or developmental disorder that can or should be cured.
Speier also is probing whether federal taxpayer dollars have been spent on conversion therapy with minors through Medicaid or TRICARE reimbursements. Her initial inquiries found “two additional instances of so-called mental health professionals that advertise these services and appear to be eligible for federal dollars,” she said. “This morning, I sent letters of inquiry to Medicaid and TRICARE to determine if these instances reflect systemic weaknesses that allow federal taxpayer dollars to go to harmful, illegitimate medical services.”
Speier was joined at a press conference this morning on Capitol Hill by Sheldon Bruck and Jerry Spencer, who were subjected to this “conversion therapy;” Laura Booker, a licensed clinical social worker; Christine Sun, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s deputy legal director; Ashland Johnson, policy counsel with the National Center for Lesbian Rights; and Brian Moulton, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign.