(San Francisco, CA, October 2, 2012)—Late Monday, the Pacific Justice Institute filed a 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. The law prohibits deceitful state-licensed therapists who falsely 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, and which place LGBTQ youth at high risk of depression and suicide.

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.

“This lawsuit is a desperate, last ditch effort to defend the indefensible,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “The plain fact is that every mainstream medical and mental health association in the country has warned that these practices are ineffective and dangerous. The state has a clear duty to protect minors from harm, and that is exactly what this law does. NCLR is committed to doing all we can to defend this law while, at the same time, we work to pass similar laws in other states. We will not rest until this “quackery,” as Governor Brown has called this practice, is illegal throughout our nation.”

Added David Codell, Equality California Board Member and pro bono counsel: “The lawsuit seeking to prevent Senate Bill 1172 from going into effect is meritless. Although Senate Bill 1172 is truly groundbreaking in addressing the particular harm to minors posed by dangerous practices designed to change a child’s sexual orientation or gender expression, the 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.”

The law will go into effect January 1, 2013.

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