CounselorsEmpowerACA Government Affairs Blog

The ACA Government Affairs team strives to keep the counseling community connected with important legislative news, updates, and announcements that affect the profession. Questions? Want to get involved in our advocacy efforts? Email us at advocacy@counseling.org 


 

Apr 28, 2017

Bills Introduced in Congress Would Ban Conversion Therapy. Add your support

 

Bills were just introduced in Congress that prohibit conversion therapy as an unfair or deceptive act or practice.  The bills were introduced in the Senate by Senator Murray of Washington and  in the House by Representative Lieu of California.  Said Lieu, “The bill is very simple. It says it is fraud if you treat someone for a condition that doesn’t exist and there’s no medical condition known as being gay. LGBTQ people were born perfect; there is nothing to treat them for. And by calling this what it should be, which is fraud, it would effectively shut down most of the organizations.”

 These bills treat conversion therapy as a fraudulent practice because sexual identity is not a medical problem and it would be fraudulent to treat them as such.  The bills bar advertisements for therapies that claim the ability to: (1) change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity, (2) eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender, or (3) be harmless or without risk.  Enforcement would be carried out by the Federal Trade Commission.  The bills were referred to the House and Senate Commerce Committees. 

 ACA’s position is that conversion therapy does not work, can cause harm, and attempts to treat something that is not treatable because sexual orientation is not a disorder, disease, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming.  The study that provides evidence that conversion therapy is both ineffective and harmful is provided by the American Psychological Association (APA) in a report entitled, Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation.  In this report, APA conducted a systematic review of the available research on sexual orientation change efforts - 83 studies in all. The report concluded that, "efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm." In fact, the report documented that up to 50% of participants in conversion therapy practices reported harmful effects from the attempt to change their sexual orientation. 

You can find your Members of Congress by going to this link and then submitting your zip code to Find Officials.  The following is a sample message you can use to add your support:

 Please Support Anti-Conversion Therapy Legislation

As a constituent and a member of the American Counseling Association I am writing to ask you to support S. 2880 and H.R. 2450, which make it illegal to advertise or charge people for conversion therapy.  Conversion therapy does not work, can cause harm, and attempts to treat something that is not treatable because sexual orientation “is not a disorder, disease, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming.”  These bills treat conversion therapy as a fraudulent practice because sexual identity is not a medical problem and cannot be treated as such.  The bills bar advertisements for such therapy that claim the ability to: (1) change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity, (2) eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender, or (3) be harmless or without risk.  Enforcement would be carried out by the Federal Trade Commission. 

 The study that provides evidence that conversion therapy is both ineffective and harmful is provided by the American Psychological Association (APA) in a report entitled, Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation.  In this report, APA conducted a systematic review of the available research on sexual orientation change efforts - 83 studies in all. The report concluded that, "efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm." In fact, the report documented that up to 50% of participants in conversion therapy practices reported harmful effects from the attempt to change their sexual orientation. 

 As a licensed counselor I want to add my opinion that conversion therapy should not be allowed and that it purports to change something that cannot be changed.  People should not be charged for that.   I hope you will agree and add your support.  Please let me know where you stand on this issue.

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2 Comments

  1. 2 Cathryn A. Hay 28 Apr
    It's time for this nonsense to stop.  Someone once thought that conversion therapy was possible, probably for religious reasons, but in fact, something this basic is decided in the womb during a certain period of gestation.  There is no therapy that will make a difference except for liars.
  2. 1 Thomas Smith 29 Apr
    I object to this advocacy without first submitting the issue for debate among the membership. The very same report, upon which the bills' authors, and the advocacy committee, bases their argument, contains the following:

    From this report, entitled, "Appropriate
    Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation?" (Page 42): “Early and
    recent research studies provide no clear indication of the prevalence of
    harmful outcomes among people who have undergone
    efforts to change their sexual orientation or the frequency of
    occurrence of harm. Because no study to date of adequate scientific
    rigor has been explicitly designed to do so.

    Thus, we cannot conclude how likely it is that harm will occur from SOCE.

    There has been no rigorous research on the safety of SOCE, neither have perceptions of harm been thoroughly investigated.

    We found that nonaversive and modern approaches to SOCE since 1978 have
    not been rigorously evaluated. Given the limited amount of
    methodologically sound research, we cannot draw a conclusion regarding
    whether recent forms of SOCE are or are not effective.

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