A bill that would have banned Massachusetts therapists from helping minors who are troubled by same-sex attraction or the experience that their gender is incompatible with their biological sex has failed in the state legislature.
An amendment added to the bill in the state House ended up causing the bill’s demise. The provision called for such therapy to be considered child abuse and would thus have required mandated reporters to notify child protective services if they had learned children were in treatment that did not immediately affirm that they are gay or transgendered.
According to the New Boston Post, the provision’s critics argued the amendment could lead to children being removed from their parents if they had them see a therapist who allowed them to explore their discomfort with same-sex attraction or gender identity confusion.
The amendment was cause for concern, leaving the state Senate to pass a version without the child abuse provision – but only after the deadline for adjournment of both the state House and Senate.
Andrew Beckwith of the Massachusetts Family Institute noted “radical LGBT activists in the Senate demanded that the child abuse provision be put back in, which would have sent the bill back to the House to be voted on again.”
Though 14 states have passed such a ban on counseling children with sexual orientation issues, Republican Gov. Paul LePage of Maine recently vetoed a bill that would have banned therapists in his state from working with children who are uncomfortable with same-sex attraction or their experience that their gender is incompatible with their biological sex.
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.”
Beckwith said he is “relieved to see that parents and children will continue to have the freedom to seek the counseling they choose” in Massachusetts.
“This bill was a clearly unconstitutional violation of the rights of parents and the freedom of speech,” he added.