Republican Gov. Paul LePage of Maine has vetoed a bill that would have banned therapists in the state from working with individuals who are troubled by same-sex attraction or by the sense their gender is incompatible with their biological sex.
Going against the tide of 13 states that now prohibit therapists from exploring – even with children and adolescents – the possible reasons why they are experiencing sexual identity issues, LePage explained in a two-page veto announcement that the bill is “bad public policy.”
In its Washington Update, Family Research Council (FRC) observed LePage is a trailblazer on the issue of therapy bans.
“After watching other legislatures fall like dominoes in the outrageous push to outlaw talk therapy on gender and sex issues, LePage became the first governor on either side to put his foot down,” FRC noted.
The governor wrote that mental health professionals are already regulated by licensure requirements, and he rejected the notion that they require regulation beyond what is already mandated.
LePage observed that while he strongly agrees that adolescents should not be physically or mentally abused by adults if they share concerns about their sexuality with them, the bill could open up a mental health professional to a malpractice issue even over a simple conversation about sexual orientation or gender initiated by the patient himself.
The governor wrote:
This is so broad that licensed professionals would be prohibited from counseling an individual even at the individual’s own request. We should not prohibit professionals from counseling an individual even at the individual’s own request. We should not prohibit professionals from providing their expertise to those who seek it for their own personal and basic questions such as, “How do I deal with these feelings I am experiencing?”
LePage also went on to voice his concerns that such a bill might be interpreted as a “threat to religious liberty.”
“Parents have the right to seek counsel and treatment for their children from professionals who do not oppose the parents’ own religious beliefs,” he asserted. “Because the standard of practice for these professionals already prohibits any practice or therapy that would amount to physical or mental abuse, what we are really trying to regulate are the private, consultative conversations between a licensed provider and a client.”
A recent review of the issue of gender dysphoria in young peoplein the Atlantic highlights this problem when such legislative “bans” on mental health treatment are lobbied by LGBTQ rights organizations that seem to know little about the psychological development of children:
The Human Rights Campaign’s “Transgender Children & Youth: Understanding the Basics” web page … asserts that “being transgender is not a phase, and trying to dismiss it as such can be harmful during a time when your child most needs support and validation.” Similarly, parents who consult the pages tagged “transgender youth” on GLAAD’s site will find many articles about supporting young people who come out as trans but little about the complicated diagnostic and developmental questions faced by the parents of a gender-exploring child.
LePage pointed out the irony that a bill he proposed to criminalize female genital mutilation – as specific as it was – “could not pass” his state legislature, yet lawmakers are concerning themselves about “conversations” between a young person and a therapist who is already licensed by the state.