Lambda Legal Urges Court to Uphold California Ban on "Ex-Gay" Therapy

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February 5, 2013

Lambda Legal is urging a federal appeals court to uphold a California law banning “ex-gay” therapy on minors.

The law, known as SB 1172, prohibits state-licensed mental health providers from using dangerous efforts to change the sexual orientation of minors. It went into effect Jan. 1.

Yesterday, Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of 12 regional and national organizations that work with LGBTQ youth.

Hayley Gorenberg, Lambda Legal Deputy Legal Director, says:

The organizations we represent in this brief have experienced, observed, and cared for LGBTQ youth suffering the harms of sexual orientation change efforts. From community centers to therapists’ organizations to crisis hotlines, they have witnessed first-hand the casualties of baseless promises in the guise of ‘therapy’ to change sexual orientation and gender identity.  SB 1172 protects children and families from the trauma of this so-called ‘ex-gay therapy’ and the trail of fractured lives and ruptured families left in its wake.

So-called reparative therapy poses critical health risks, including depression, shame, decreased self-esteem, social withdrawal, substance abuse, self-harm and suicide. Youth are often subjected to these practices at the insistence of parents who don't know or don't believe that the efforts are harmful. But the risks of long-term mental and physical health consequences are particularly severe. In addition, when these efforts fail to produce the expected result, many LGBTQ children are kicked out of their homes.

Lambda Legal’s brief quotes an individual who underwent "reparative therapy" as a child:

I had great parents, but lost my relationship with them because they thought there was a cure that I could pursue that I was stubbornly refusing to accept. I still battle depression and anxiety, and I think it really stems back to that. I don’t think that bogus pseudoscience should be available, because it gives people who want to believe a different reality is possible the ability to force [this treatment].  It allows parents who are wishing for a different scenario to damage their children. They could actually move forward and develop a strong bond with their kids, and that time is lost.

On the friend-of-the-court brief, Lambda Legal represents: the Dependency Legal Group of San Diego; the Children’s Law Center of California; East Bay Children’s Law Offices; Gaylesta; Legal Advocates for Children and Youth (LACY); the LGBTQ-Affirmative Therapist Guild of Utah; the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center; the Los Angeles Youth Network (LAYN); Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG); Public Counsel; the Trevor Project; and Truth Wins Out.