State Legislation & Policy
NCLR and EQCA Say Anti-LGBT Groups Are “Grasping at Straws” with Lawsuits Challenging Law Protecting LGBT Youth From Psychological Abuse
(San Francisco, CA, October 4, 2012)—Today, two anti-LGBT groups, the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality and Liberty Counsel, filed a second federal challenge to the new law signed Saturday by California Governor Jerry Brown that will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender young people in the state from dangerous and potentially deadly psychological abuse. Senate Bill 1172 was authored by Senator Ted Lieu, co-sponsored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Equality California, Gaylesta, Courage Campaign, Lambda Legal, and Mental Health America of Northern California, and supported by dozens of organizations.
The law—which goes into effect on January 1, 2013—prohibits state-licensed therapists who claim to be able to change their clients’ sexual orientation or gender expression from using dangerous practices known to lead to extreme depression and suicide. With Governor Brown’s signature, California became the first state in the country to prevent mental health professionals from subjecting youth to these dangerous practices, which have been rejected by every mainstream mental health association as ineffective and dangerous.
One of the plaintiffs in the case filed today is Joseph Nicolosi, a California-based advocate of psychological practices that attempt to change sexual orientation. Ryan Kendall, a victim of these abusive practices and former patient of Nicolosi’s, testified about his experiences during the Proposition 8 trial in 2010 and shared them again this summer with the California Assembly’s Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee: “As a young teen, the anti-gay practice of so-called conversion therapy destroyed my life and tore apart my family. In order to stop the therapy that misled my parents into believing that I could somehow be made straight, I was forced to run away from home, surrender myself to the local department of human services, and legally separate myself from my family. At the age of 16, I had lost everything. My family and my faith had rejected me, and the damaging messages of conversion therapy, coupled with this rejection, drove me to the brink of suicide.”
“These extreme anti-LGBT groups are grasping at straws with these lawsuits,” NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “Every mainstream medical and mental health association in the country has warned that these practices are ineffective and dangerous. The state has the right and obligation to protect young people from this abuse, which can lead to depression, substance abuse, self-harm, and even suicide. This law is no different from a thousand others that protect kids, from prohibiting underage smoking and drinking to requiring parents to use car seats. NCLR will commit all the energy and resources necessary to defend this vital and life-saving law.”
Added David Codell, Equality California Board Member and pro bono counsel: “The latest lawsuit seeking to prevent Senate Bill 1172 from going into effect is misguided and meritless, just like the similar lawsuit filed earlier this week. Senate Bill 1172 is groundbreaking in addressing the particular harms to minors posed by dangerous practices by licensed health care providers intended to change a child’s sexual orientation or gender expression. Despite the advances that Senate Bill 1172 represents, however, the new law fits squarely within a well-established set of laws designed to protect minors from harmful practices by licensed professionals. Equality California is committed to educating the public and the courts about the new law, its validity, and its benefits to California youth and families.”