August 20, 2012 Print
State of California

California Legislators Expected to Pass Controversial Counseling Bill

by Bethany Monk

California Gov. Jerry Brown may soon have the opportunity to sign a bill that would make it illegal for counselors in the state to help minors with unwanted attractions to people of the same gender.

Sen. Ted Lieu of San Francisco authored S.B. 1172, which passed the Senate in May. On Aug. 8, it passed the General Assembly Appropriations Committee, and is expected to come up for a vote by the full Assembly by the end of the month.

“This bill is an outrageous violation of free-speech rights between a trained, licensed counselor and a patient that wishes to receive services,” Pacific Justice Institute President Brad Dacus told Citizenlink. “This legislation, by denying them the ability to get care or treatment or counseling, victimizes them twice.”

Since Lieu introduced the bill in February, it’s undergone several changes.

Though it initially required adults seeking SOCE treatment to sign a form saying they’d been made fully aware of the “possible harms” seeking to change their sexual orientation might do them, that provision was deleted. The latest version allows a therapist to work with a minor on changing dangerous sexual practices, but bans him from providing help for same-sex attractions or gender expressions — even if the child’s parents OK the treatment.

David Pickup, a licensed therapist in Glendale, told CitizenLink the bill would hurt a lot of people who need sexual orientation change effort (SOCE) treatment. And he has firsthand knowledge of the treatment — not only as a therapist, but as a recipient. He sought SOCE counseling many years ago, and said it’s worked for him and several of his clients.

“It’s going to create an immense problem for these people, and it also will trod on church and state rights issues, trod on parents’ rights,” and the rights of minors, said Pickup.

“For every client that I’ve seen who is motivated and who really does want to change and who doesn’t get discouraged — who follows through and doesn’t give up, there has been a significant and spontaneous lessening or dissipation of homosexual attraction,” he said.

If the bill passes, he’s not sure how it will impact his practice.

“That’s why this bill is so dangerous. Who knows what’s going to happen?” he said. “There are a lot of us, however, who are prepared to take action if it is signed by the governor.”

Read California S.B. 1172.

Read “The (Complete) Lack of a Scientific Basis for Banning Sexual-Orientation Change Efforts with Minors,” by Christopher Rosik, Ph.D.