State Legislation & Policy
NCLR Responds to Federal Court’s Decision on California Law Protecting LGBT Youth from Dangerous Practices by Therapists Who Claim to Change Sexual Orientation
Statement by NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter, Esq.
(San Francisco, CA, December 3, 2012)—Today, Judge William B. Shubb of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California issued an order temporarily exempting three plaintiffs from the enforcement of a new law preventing licensed therapists from trying to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender expression. The order applies only to the three plaintiffs and does not prevent the state from enforcing the law against other licensed mental health professionals. The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2013.
The Court’s decision was prompted by a lawsuit filed by two licensed therapists and another individual who intends to become a therapist, challenging the new law that protects LGBT youth from practices that are known to lead to depression and suicide.
Senate Bill 1172 was authored by Senator Ted Lieu and sponsored by Equality California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gaylesta, Courage Campaign, Lambda Legal, and Mental Health America of Northern California, and supported by dozens of organizations including the California Psychological Association, the California Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and the California Division of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.
California Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on September 29, 2012.
Statement by NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter, Esq.:
“We are disappointed by the ruling but very pleased that the temporary delay in implementing this important law applies only to the three plaintiffs who brought this lawsuit. The judge stressed that he was willing to issue the ruling in part because it is temporary and applies only to three individuals. We are confident that as the case progresses, it will be clear to the court that this law is fundamentally no different than many other laws that regulate health care professionals to protect patients. That is especially important in this case because the harms to minors are so serious, including suicide and severe depression. Every leading medical and mental health organization in the country has rejected these practices and warned that they are not only completely ineffective, but dangerous. California did the right thing by enacting this law, and we are confident the courts will find that it is not only constitutional, but vitally necessary. It is heartbreaking to think of the terrible damage that has been done to so many LGBT youth and their families, and of the lives that have been lost or destroyed because of these discredited practices.
We applaud Senator Ted Liu, the bill’s author, lead sponsor Equality California, the California Legislature, and Governor Brown for protecting these young people and their families. Governor Brown’s statement when he signed this bill is right on target: ‘This bill bans non-scientific ‘therapies’ that have driven young people to depression and suicide. These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.’ ”