California has introduced a bill to ban psychotherapy designed to alter “sexual orientation.” Senate Bill 1172 would ban:
psychotherapists, as defined, from performing sexual orientation change efforts, as defined, in the absence of informed consent of the patient. The bill would require a specified statement to be included on the informed consent form. Informed consent would not be effective for patients under 18 years of age.
Parents could not enroll their children in psychotherapy with regard to sexual behavior, and children and teens could not give their consent to such psychotherapy. Children and teens can get an abortion without parental consent, but they apparently cannot consent to “sexual orientation” psychotherapy. The bill states:
Under no circumstances shall a patient under 18 years of age undergo sexual orientation change efforts, regardless of the willingness of a patient’s parent, guardian, conservator, or other person to authorize such efforts.
The bill would explicitly move into law the idea that sexual orientation is not a “disorder, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming.” It also suggests that sexual orientation change is impossible, and poses “critical health risks to lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.”
The crux of the legislation is the definition of “sexual orientation change efforts”:
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.
This seems odd. Psychotherapy for homosexuality may not work – evidence suggests that in the vast majority of cases, it doesn’t. But why would the state arbitrarily decide that psychotherapy for homosexuality is wrong, but psychotherapy aimed at other sexual desires, including pedophilia, incest, or other sexual desires without consent of the object of the desire, is fine? Some of those other sexual desires are as immutable as homosexuality. Yet somehow homosexuality has special status; those other desires may be considered a “disorder, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming,” but homosexuality must never be.
This is a moral judgment, not a scientific or legal one. And that’s fine; we make moral judgments all the time. But if someone wants to participate in psychotherapy at age 17 regarding homosexuality, why should that be banned, while if that same person wants to engage in psychotherapy regarding an unrequited crush, that isn’t banned? Consent is not the value at stake here. Special status for homosexuality is.
Regulating psychotherapy based not on science but on morality is precisely what the left accuses the right of doing on a regular basis. The purpose of this bill is to prevent consensual psychotherapy for teenagers, and to write into consent forms the language of the left. This is coercive, not protective.