Relations Reporting on marriage, family, and sexuality

Therapy bans, the new battlefield

Sexuality | LGBT advocates want to outlaw sexual orientation change efforts
by Kiley Crossland
Posted 4/06/18, 04:15 pm

In the last two weeks, at least four states have taken action on laws barring therapists from counseling individuals about their sexual orientation or gender identity, other than to encourage homosexuality or transgenderism.

Supporters of the laws argue the bans protect people from ineffective and abusive methods while contending sexual orientation and gender identity are fixed and efforts to change them result in repression and shame.

But critics—both pro-family groups and therapist organizations—say the laws ignore evidence that both sexuality and gender identity often change, violate the confidential relationship between a counselor and client, and deny parents and children the treatment of their choice.

Last week, Washington became the 10th state to pass a ban. The new state law labels as “unprofessional conduct” any therapy for minors with unwanted same-sex attraction that involves helping them embrace heterosexuality or any assistance given minors with gender dysphoria to embrace their biological gender. Providers accused of violating the law face fines and license revocation.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed the measure March 28. At the signing ceremony, he claimed, “We are today prohibiting the abuse of our children.”

On Wednesday, Maryland lawmakers passed a similar bill on to Gov. Larry Hogan, who is expected to sign it.

“It’s not about religious values. It’s about basic human decency,” said Maryland Delegate Meagan Simonaire, who spoke in favor of the ban before the House vote. “It’s about the fact that it’s impossible to fix something that was never broken in the first place.”

But while the evidence of the harms of sexual orientation change efforts is often anecdotal—horror stories of shock therapy or “aversion” therapy, where physical pain is inflicted in association with certain feelings—there no evidence that a single practitioner today uses those methods, according to Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council.

Sprigg testified against the Maryland bill last month. He said science clearly supports the idea that those who change their sexual orientation and gender identity often change back, especially minors. He cited a study by the nation’s leading expert on homosexuality in teens that found among boys who claimed exclusive same-sex romantic attraction, only 11 percent reported exclusive same-sex attraction one year later.

The National Task Force for Therapy Equality, an alliance of mental health professionals opposed to bans on sexual orientation change efforts, expressed opposition to the Maryland ban, citing research that no less than 75 percent of boys and girls who experience gender dysphoria come to accept their biological sex if they are supported and not pointed toward transition. Banning therapy for minors with gender dysphoria fast-tracks them toward social gender transition, potentially harmful hormone treatments, and irreversible surgeries.

For Christians, bans on therapy for those desiring to align their affections with God’s design also infringe on religious liberty. Despite this evidence, more states are considering similar and even more radical bans.

On Thursday, the Colorado House of Representatives passed a measure similar to Washington’s and Maryland’s. The bill is now before the Senate. And on Tuesday, California lawmakers passed the most expansive conversion therapy measure out of an Assembly committee. The law would label as fraudulent any view of sexuality or gender identity—expressed in books, conferences, or therapy—at odds with the LGBT agenda.

A growing number of organizations, churches, and experts are rallying against the measure, but California has a history of successfully pushing progressive laws. The bill is now before the Assembly Judiciary Committee for a hearing.

Special kids, special challenges

New research out this month found adopted kids are more likely to struggle in school.

Scholars at the Institute for Family Studies (ISF) analyzed data from a 2016 U.S. Department of Education survey of the parents or guardians of more than 14,000 American children.

The researchers found adopted students were three times more likely to have been suspended or expelled from school and four times more likely to have repeated a grade.

The authors drew further conclusions about the importance of stable adoptive families, differences in internationally and domestically adopted children, and the prevalence of medical or emotional conditions in adopted students that affect their performance in school.

The data “reveal the complex challenges adopted children face in overcoming the effects of early stress, deprivation, and the loss of the biological family,” wrote authors Nicholas Zill and Bradford Wilcox, both senior fellows at IFS. They added that the data also revealed that even among those who struggle, the majority of adopted children enjoy going to school and receive resources to help them flourish.

“There is little question that adopted children are better off than they would be in long-term foster or institutional care,” Zill and Wilcox concluded. “It is vital that current and potential adoptive parents be aware of the challenges they may face, as well as the eventual benefits that will accrue to them and the child as a result of the love and resources they provide and the struggles they endure.” —K.C.

YouTube YouTube Kaelin Swaney

A year to remember

A California kindergarten teacher, who was embroiled in controversy last year for announcing to her class of 5-year-olds that one of their classmates was changing genders, was named teacher of the year by the California Charter Association last week. Kaelin Swaney, a teacher at Rocklin Academy Gateway in Rocklin, Calif., won the 2018 Hart Vision Teacher of the Year award for actions the association deemed as  “tenacious and brave.”

In June 2017, without notifying any parents, Swaney read her kindergarteners I am Jazz, a book about transgender YouTube personality Jazz Jennings, and reintroduced one of their classmates, a biological boy, to the class as a girl.

Despite an understandable outcry from parents, the Rocklin School Board in September 2017 refused to change its policy to allow parent notification before lessons about gender identity or sexual orientation. At least 90 children have left the school as a result of the incident, according to the California Family Council. —K.C.

Gender pressure

Swedish preschools are taking “gender neutral” to new extremes.

The New York Times last month profiled a Swedish preschool—with an in-house gender expert on staff—where the boys are put in charge of the play kitchen, the girls are taught to shout “No!” and teachers get frustrated when preschoolers draw eyelashes on pictures of girls.

As evidence of their successful methods, the school staff pointed to a 2-year-old girl who used to wear pink dresses and liked to be clean and now has become a messy screamer whose parents report she is more “cheeky and defiant” at home. What was wrong with her when she first arrived? —K.C.

A rude awakening

An Arizona mother is in trouble this week for the tactic she used to get her teenage son out of bed for church on Easter morning: a stun gun. The 16-year-old told police his mom shocked him with a Taser, but the mom claimed she just sparked the weapon in front of him as a warning. Either way, the plan didn’t work for the mom, who spent Easter in jail. —K.C.

Kiley Crossland

Kiley is a WORLD Digital assistant editor and reports on marriage, family, and sexuality.

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  • CaptTee's picture
    Posted: Fri, 04/06/2018 11:27 pm

    If you can legislate about becoming un-gay, the you can legislate about becoming gay!

  • Laura W
    Posted: Sat, 04/07/2018 12:39 am

    The funny thing is, I think it might actually be useful for boys and girls to get coaching in skills the other gender typically excels in, but not because there's anything wrong with boys and girls being better at different things--just that it's good for everyone to be more well-rounded overall. And for kids who don't happen to fit a particular stereotype, it doesn't hurt for them to see that it is also good for a girl to be tough or a boy to be caring, for instance, when those qualities are called for.

  • not silent
    Posted: Sat, 04/07/2018 01:50 pm

    I think the article about therapy bans does a good job of discussing the ways certain therapies and etc may cause harm and ignore scientific evidence.  Unfortunately, it seems to minimize the pain caused by sexual orientation change therapy ("conversion tharapy").  It may be true that reports of the harms of sexual orientation change therapy ("conversion therapy") are largely anecdotal; however, that does not make those harms less real.  According to merriam-webster, "anecdotal" means "based on or consisting of reports or observations of usually unscientific observers."  Most eyewitness accounts are not made by scientific observers. A close relative of mine has friends who have personally experienced conversion therapy, so this isn't just an abstract concept-these are real people who have really been hurt who have given first-person accounts.  It may be true that the drastic practices which were listed are no longer happening, but I wonder if they would have stopped without a major outcry.  

    Please understand that I am not denying or attacking what the article is saying-nor what the Bible says.  I am in full agreement with the Bible on everything.  I am also very much in favor of presenting scientific evidence to help prevent harm to others.  This is just to present a side of the equation that many people on these forums probably don't encounter. 

    I guess I think that we as Christians must be willing to acknowledge the pain that people have suffered as a result of therapies (or anything else) that claimed to represent our teachings.  I am certainly not saying that anyone here PERSONALLY agreed with any of the extreme treatment methods-or anything else that has caused pain-just saying we must be willing to acknowledge when something DOES cause pain.  What makes it all REALLY hard is that those who used these techniques most likely believed they were doing the right thing at the time-and some of those who were being treated also believed it was the only way for them to be helped.  It is only in retrospect that the harm can be seen.  (Please understand that while I believe those treatment methods were harmful, I still believe the Bible. But I believe God has a different way or ways to accomplish his will.)  Sometimes even the best intentions go awry; and, unless we acknowledge that pain has occurred, I don't think we are likely to get very far in convincing others to listen to us when we try to convince them that any of their policies are causing pain. 

    I realize that it is common practice to lump drastic therapy techniques in together with any type of therapy that discusses the Bible, but I think it would help Christians if we would acknowledge that real harm has been done by some techniques.  If we focus on scientific evidence, it can probalby be shown which are helpful and which are not.  In numerous discussions on secular forums, I have found that focusing on scientific evidence is very helpful because even with atheists real science always backs up God's truth.

    Posted: Sat, 04/07/2018 05:37 pm

    If you are interested in a science-based rationale for giving people with unwanted same-sex attractions the freedom to explore their potential for attraction fluidity and change, please read this interview:

    If you are interested in how professional and progressive activism manipulate the political process to achieve therapy ban goals, read this article (I am not LDS, but this journal was gracious enough to give this information a home when other professional journals were not):

  • not silent
    Posted: Sat, 04/07/2018 08:13 pm

    Thanks for providing additional information.  When Jesus sent out his disciples to heal diseases and cast out demons, he told them to be "as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." (Matthew 10:16 NIV)  I think of those words often; and, although I didn't say it earlier, I should have pointed out that we really need the guidance of the Holy Spirit as well as scientific evidence to deal with difficult situations like this-or at least I do.  I could never have found the evidence I needed or used it effectively without being empowered by the Holy Spirit.  May God continue to guide us as we seek his will.

  • DCal3000
    Posted: Sun, 04/08/2018 01:08 am

    The simple fact is that freedom of speech on matters of sexual orientation is all but gone.  More specifically, the evangelical Christian view will soon be effectively banned in public if trends do not change.  

    In any case, the fact that so many states want to prevent therapists from counseling someone in a way that discourages homosexuality is unfortunate.  Even if the pro-homosexual view were right and were not contrary to Scripture, it is entirely possible that young heterosexuals could become confused about their own orientation.  It is depressing that they will be unable to receive any help at all.  For all the lipservice our culture pays to tolerance and individual rights, we are truly merciless.

  • Paula Garcia
    Posted: Mon, 04/09/2018 05:32 pm

    I think "aggressive" would be a better adjective than progressive.

    "...California has a historyof successfully pushing progressive laws."

  • Xion's picture
    Posted: Tue, 04/10/2018 04:24 pm

    Biblical speech is banned on the grounds that it is religious.  Conservative speech is banned because it is deemed hateful.  What is surprising is that now scientific evidence is censored on the grounds that it is not progressive.