Gay/Lesbian Issues

Conversion Therapy Is Bad, but Banning It Is a Form of Unacceptable Censorship

We don't need lawmakers deciding what therapies should be supported or legal.

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I am willing to discuss banning that necklace, though.
Time

Hawaii is the latest state to consider bans on conversion therapy for youths under legal age. "Conversion therapy" is the term for trying to turn gay people straight or to convince transgender people to embrace their biological sex. It is a form of therapy that is now widely discredited by experts as ineffective and immoral.

Legislation has been introduce in Hawaii to mostly ban the practice, and really to ban certain people from talking about it. The bill has two parts. The first part of the bill forbids teachers from engaging in efforts to change the sexual orientation of students under the age of 18. While it's under the purview of the state to determine what topics of discussion are appropriate between public teachers and students on the job, the law does not appear to differentiate between public and private school teachers. It also doesn't seem to differentiate between a teacher doing his or her work as an educator or a teacher engaged in private matters on his or her own time.

The second part of the law would forbid licensed counselors, psychologists, and the like from offering conversion therapy to minors or advertising conversion therapy to minors. Doing so will result in discipline from licensing authorities and would be considered "an unfair or deceptive act or practice" by Hawaiian law.

Laws like this go above and beyond regulating and forbidding practices that are scientifically certain to be harmful (like prescribing inappropriate and dangerous medicine) to actually censoring and forbidding types of discussion. These kinds of laws should be resisted not because one supports trying to convert gay people or transgender people, but because it's an intrusion of artificial government certainty into a field of treatment that is anything but.

Under the logic of these laws, back when the government and psychiatrists thought homosexuals were mentally ill predators (which wasn't, frankly, all that long ago), it would have been perfectly acceptable and logical for the government to pass laws that did the exact reverse: to forbid therapists and counselors from encouraging youths from accepting and acting on their homosexuality. Indeed, as late as 2013, conservative state legislators were trying to pass laws that did the exact opposite and forbid teachers and educators from even discussing homosexuality with some school students.

The same type of people who object to "don't say gay" laws embrace and champion anti-conversion therapy laws. But the principle that drives the two laws is exactly the same. Each side wants to use the government to forcibly censor discussions that they believe may be harmful to the young listener. The law proposed in Hawaii happens to have a majority of the therapeutic field on its side. Now. Fifty years ago would have been a different situation.

The lesson people should be learning from the history of anti-gay bigotry in America's government is to try to keep lawmakers and officials from controlling the cultural discussion. If it is acceptable and moral for a Hawaiian legislator to use the power of government to stop certain discussions about sexual orientation from happening because she thinks they are harmful, then it's just as acceptable and moral for a Tennessee legislator to use the power of government to censor in a completely different direction for the same reasons.

If conversion therapy is ineffective (and it is) it will fall out of practice on its own (which it is). The law does nothing to prevent non-licensed religion-based conversion efforts, and ultimately that's where this is all going to end up, to the extent that it still continues. The law can't stop non-licensed conversion therapy because lawmakers know that would be a First Amendment violation. But if conversion therapy is "harmful," it's still harmful when attempted by non-licensed therapists, right? That's the sign that this kind of law is about regulating speech, not treatment.

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  1. This article didn’t need anything more than the title, because the title says it all.

  2. If conversion therapy is ineffective (and it is) it will fall out of practice on its own (which it is).

    Just like socialism.

    *** gets idea ***

    Hey, how about banning people from talking about *that*?

    1. socialists would love nothing more than to stop people from talking about socialism (and its history of failure)

  3. Could it, though, be seen as a form of child abuse is used on teens? Also, do people willingly go to these therapy sessions?

    1. Yes, and to a much lesser degree, yes.

    2. It’s definitely a form of child abuse, but it doesn’t look like Hawaii was trying to restrain parents in any way. Instead, they would restrain children who actually wanted to do this (if there are any).

      1. That’s exactly what jumped out at me.

        “The second part of the law would forbid licensed counselors, psychologists, and the like from offering conversion therapy to minors or advertising conversion therapy to minors.”

        What minor has the money for that shit? Most, if not all of that, is aimed at the parents.

      2. Talking to a child is abuse but cutting off their genitalia and pumping them full of hormones is OK ?

    3. My personal anecdote is that my therapist was insistent that I “admit” to having been sexually abused as a child because in his worldview that was the genesis of homosexuality. When I indicated that I had not been sexually abused as a child he called me the worst patient he’d ever had.

      I read his book, all of his case studies were people who had had awful families, had turned to drugs/prostitution to deal with their awful families and then when they tried to get their lives back together blamed being gay for all of their problems rather than the fact that they’d been raised by monsters. It’s the only book I’ve ever put in the garbage.

      1. Just wondering, jesse — Was *he* sexually abused as a child?

        1. Common sense armchair psychology says “without question” but it was definitely outside the purview of our therapeutic relationship to ask and for all I know he had a best friend growing up who had been sexually abused, struggled with attraction to men and killed himself when he was a teenager and that set him off on the path he was on.

          1. You fucked the guy, though, right?

    4. The bill would seem to be constitutional under Pickup v. Brown http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/co…..0000000635 .

      I do not think that case was correctly decided (for the reasons given in the dissent from denial of en banc rehearing).
      I do think that the California bill might pass intermediate scrutiny- possibly even strict scrutiny, but that would have required actually looking at the first amendment issues.

      Also, if the treatment is involuntary, and if it can be demonstrated to be harmful, it should be grounds for protection or emancipation. A bill that just prevents licensed professionals from providing the “service” does little to advance anyone’s interests.

  4. Because of the gravity I am reposting an OT:

    Just now announced: 37 pages of Hillary’s emails won’t be released at all because they contain top secret info. Then a disclaimer: They weren’t top secret when Hillary sent them, they have just now been reclassified.

    Uh huh. Twenty dollars to a hole in a doughnut those emails show that hillary committed treason or put info about Benghazi on her server and that is what prompted the attack on our embassy.

    “The 37 pages include messages recently described by a key intelligence official as concerning so-called “special access programs” – a highly restricted subset of classified material that could point to confidential sources or clandestine programs like drone strikes or government eavesdropping.”

    Or gun running in Libya.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/22…..-released/

    I will probably be gone for PM links, but I am confident someone will post it there too.

    1. Oh well I guess they’ll definitely indict Hillary now.

      1. As sure as I’m having Dominoes for dinner tonight.

        1. Live it up. Go for some Chipotle’s.

          1. I think I told Hugh the story of Dominoes at the Reason thing. I can’t remember because somebody roofied me.

            They delivered a pizza to my door 2 hours late with rotten meat on it. I called, and they showed up again, 2 hours later, with another pizza with rotten meat. It smelled so bad that I had to triple bag it before I through it away in the garage. Apparently, the pizza maker that day was quite sick and couldn’t smell a thing.

            NEVER AGAIN, dominos.

            I hate Dominoes almost as much as Chipotle. Almost. And I used to eat there twice a month.

            1. So what I’m getting from this is that you used to think Dominos was good, but we should trust your taste in other food.

              1. Everything is a tradeoff, the worst. I’ve been through 3 drive thrus in the last 12 hours.

                If you see me taking a selfie with Dominoes, then we’ll talk.

            2. Domino’s let me down once with a cold pizza where the fungus wasn’t even melted into the cheese. Otherwise I’ve been pretty happy with their product.

              1. Usually, they deliver what they promise: a $5 salty hot circle of garbage.

            3. That’s pretty nasty.

              I never had chain pizza places around when I was a kid, so I’ve always found them all to be pretty crap.

              1. Yeah, you have to learn to like it. Can your body handle 3 grams of salt in one meal?

      2. I’m sure they’ll indict Hillary, then they’ll indict all the other top-level people at the State Department who knew all along what Clinton was doing and said nothing about it. I mean, as soon as the State Department finishes it thorough investigation of itself.

    2. SAP involves sources

      1. Don’t get me started on fucking SAP. Goddamn German bullshit.

        Oh, wait. I’m thinking of something else.

      2. In State, maybe. DOD is usually tech.

  5. Seems like the best thing would be a law or legal standard to prevent teens from being enrolled in such programs against their will. That wouldn’t infringe on the free speech aspect and would guarantee the teens in question freedom from coercion.

    1. Yep.

    2. I would expand the recognition of their rights to opt out of much more than just homosexual/transexual conversion therapy.

    3. Doesn’t gay conversion therapy, AKA “pray the gay away”, implicate freedom of religion? And what if we called it “Aborting The Gayness”? Does Medicaid cover this?

      1. You can still “pray the gay away”. It’s just “sciencing away the gay” that is prohibited

    4. At what level, then, do we not allow parents to make rules governing the behavior of their children? 17? 15? 13?

      1. At what level, then, do we not allow parents to make rules governing the behavior of their children? 17? 15? 13?

        That is a very good question with no clear answer. I think legal emancipation should be more accessible to teenagers with abusive and/or neglectful parents, but it is somewhat incompatible with our modern view of legal majority vs. age.

        Given the age of majority, there really should be a middle ground between “ward of the parent” and “legal major” where the individual has greater but not full legal autonomy and parents have commensurately less responsibility.

  6. How is voluntary conversion therapy “bad”?

    Ah, here’s the answer:

    now widely discredited by experts

    Those Top.Men. again. Is there anything they don’t know better than individuals?

    1. Well, there are lots of ways it might be bad in terms of subjective effects. Like it might leave you more screwed up than you started. But no one should use force to stop people voluntarily screwing themselves up.

      1. Like it might leave you more screwed up than you started.

        Like when (some) children are told or reinforced in their belief that their gender identity is the opposite of their sex.

        1. If you must insert some mostly unrelated issue in here, then yes, that is also something that might leave people more screwed up than they started.

          I’m pretty open minded on the transgender thing, but it seems wise to wait until you’ve gone through puberty to do anything drastic.

          1. mostly unrelated issue

            Unrelated? It is in the original post. Trying to convince people to accept the rejection of their biological sex is kinda the same thing.

            “Conversion therapy” is the term for trying to turn gay people straight or to convince transgender people to embrace their biological sex.

  7. These kinds of laws should be resisted not because one supports trying to convert gay people or transgender people, but because it’s an intrusion of artificial government certainty into a field of treatment that is anything but.

    Nice.

    Still digesting the rest. Well done, Shackford.

  8. “discredited by experts”

    Experts in what? I thought Reason was against appeals to authority. Isn’t it hard to give them up when there’s so much pressure to make that point?

    1. Reason writers cite subject-matter experts in their articles all the time.

    2. If you don’t rely on any expert authority, you really can’t do much at all. On the shoulders of giants we stand, and all that. You can’t really expect Reason to go out and do their own studies on the effectiveness of conversion therapy.

    1. I also wonder how much time Scott spent googling images of “gay teens” before he posted the Time cover.

    2. + 13 “tacos”

  9. Under the logic of these laws, back when the government and psychiatrists thought homosexuals were mentally ill predators (which wasn’t, frankly, all that…

    …far from the truth)…

    THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT WAS COMING NEXT AND I WAS READY TO JUMP ALL OVER IT. But since it’s not what Shackford wrote, and I was robbed of being a hero on the internet by denouncing it, I’ll just say “meow” about the alt-text.

  10. I heard that gay conversion camp is a great place to meet and fuck dudes.

    1. I also enjoyed the movie But I’m a Cheerleader, Pl?ya.

      1. I petitioned my parents to send me to an all-girl’s school… you know, to straighten me out… but they were having none of it.

  11. “If it is acceptable and moral for a Hawaiian legislator to use the power of government to stop certain discussions about sexual orientation from happening because she thinks they are harmful, then it’s just as acceptable and moral for a Tennessee legislator to use the power of government to censor in a completely different direction for the same reasons.”

    Yeah, presumably it will still be legal for a therapist to help a transsexual that wants to be more like the other sex, right?

    I know not all transgender people want to change their orientation just because they change sexes (I guess Caitlyn Jenner says she still likes girls?), but if a transsexual wants help becoming more attracted to one sex or the other, wouldn’t this law prohibit therapists from helping them with that?

    I remember reading a blurb from a feminist who wanted to become a man. She was writing about what it was like when the testosterone first started kicking in. How she found herself staring at women’s breasts while she was talking to them, turning around to check out their asses, and doing all sorts of other objectifying things that she’d condemned as a feminist. If a transsexual female to male wants help becoming more heterosexual, would this law prohibit that?

    I guess they’re probably depending on selective enforcement. They’ll only planning to go after the Christians, I’m sure.

    1. I know not all transgender people want to change their orientation just because they change sexes

      I’m no expert, but I think that it’s more like “almost none”.

      But it does sound like this law would also ban it for those few who do.

    2. -but if a transsexual wants help becoming more attracted to one sex or the other, wouldn’t this law prohibit therapists from helping them with that?

      I know hundreds of transexuals (both directions), and this is the first time I have ever heard this. I don’t ever recall anyone wanting to change their sexual orientation, as most consider it innate and wholly separate from an individual’s gender identity.

      In addition, the concept of a MtF transexual (as an example), “needing” to change sexual orientation to fit into a gender binary is no longer part of the accepted treatment and much like conversion therapy is now doing, has fallen out of favor.

      1. the concept of a MtF transexual (as an example), “needing” to change sexual orientation

        So confusing. I’m a dude, who likes gettting banged by dudes, so I’m a gay man trapped in a . . . man’s body? That can’t be it. I’m a dude, who doesn’t like getting it on with dudes, so I’m a straight man trapped . . . no, that can’t be it.

    3. Yeah, presumably it will still be legal for a therapist to help a transsexual that wants to be more like the other sex, right?

      They’ll only planning to go after the Christians, I’m sure.

      +1 Genital mutilation.

      How long will actual sex change operations fail to produce reliable positive outcomes before we *ban* it?

  12. Why does anyone need to be “out” while still in high school, anyway? Take advantage of the opportunities for same-sex sleepovers.

  13. It’s about informed choices. Everyone should at least be given the opportunity to Pray the Gay Away.

    I for one believe that there should be a law where caregivers are required to at least discuss this treatment with gay youth.

  14. if it didn’t work, then they wouldn’t be trying to ban it.

    1. Killing people who annoy us with their nonsensical logic would be highly effective, and yet we ban that.

      Want to try again, Skippy?

  15. Well now tht makes a lot of sens eudde.

    http://www.Full-VPN.tk

  16. On the flip side, counseling boys feeling some confusion about their gender that they’re really girls and should have their junk chopped off ASAP is *totally* legal.

  17. I don’t get the “I disapprove of it, but don’t want to ban it” angle.

    Which one is it?

  18. Ok, not a hill I’m going to die on ….

  19. The author tried to male the claim that banning conversion therapy would somehow be curtailing freedom of speech for unlicensed therapists of they were banned from the practice.

    If the author is correct, then what is the point of requiring therapists to go to the extreme expense of all of those years of college? What is the point of having a license in the first place? Quacks and charlatans have no desire to be licensed or care about the damage they do to their victims.

    The only thing the authors advice would do is to create a legal black market for the torture of people in need of real help not quakery.

  20. It’s not just that conversion therapy has been declared by experts to not work, it’s that it has literally been named a form of child abuse and torture by the people studying it.

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