A bill that would ban therapy aimed at turning gay and lesbian minors straight—sometimes referred to as sexual orientation change therapy or reorientation therapy—has advanced to the floor of the California State Senate for debate. The bill, known as SB 1172, was introduced by Sen. Ted Lieu, democrat from Torrance, and was approved Tuesday along a party-line vote by the Senate Judiciary Committe.
Passage of the bill would make California the first state to ban this type of therapy.
Steven Tierney, chair of the Department of Counseling Psychology at CIIS and former president of the San Francisco Health Commission, says that the "most minimal standard" of therapy is to do no harm, and indicated that this bill is a step toward that goal.
"The purpose of therapy is to promote healing and to empower and to call forth the young person’s innate power to heal and enhance his or her own well being," Tierney said. "Sen. Lieu’s bill is critically important to promote this model of mental health services."
The bill would also make it illegal for therapists or psychologists to practice sexual orientation change therapy on adults who have not given their written consent.
Some mental health organizations have expressed concern that the bill is written too broadly, and may inhibit therapists from broaching certain topics for fear that they would be breaking the law. The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, which is not in support of the bill in its current incarnation, has indicated that with changes to the bill's language the organization could support the bill.