Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Politics & Public Policy

California Congresswoman calls again for end to LGBTQ Conversion Therapy
Rep. Jackie Speier, (D-CA)      AP file photo
By Brody Levesque | WASHINGTON -- U. S. Representative Jackie Speier, (D-CA) reintroduced a resolution Wednesday that calls for federal measures to protect young people from the psychological efffects of so-called LGBT conversion or reparative therapy practices.
The Stop Harming Our Kids (SHOK) resolution urges states to end these harmful and discredited sexual orientation change efforts.
When introduced last year the resolution was the first federal action taken to end the discredited sexual orientation therapy, which two states, California and New Jersey has banned with a proposed law based on those state's efforts set to be introduced in the upcoming 2014 session of the Minnesota legislature.
State legislatures in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, Wisconsin, and Ohio are currently also considering similar measures. 
“When Jerry Spencer told his family that he was gay, his mother told him not to worry because they would quote ‘fix it.’ This began seven years of going through so-called ‘conversion therapy’ to try to make him straight,” Speier said on the House floor Tuesday. 
“He was forced to put blocks of ice on his hands while he looked at pictures of guys holding hands, and would only be given relief from the pain if he pleaded to see a picture of a guy and girl holding hands. 
Other survivors of this quackery were told to strip down and hold their genitalia or to snap themselves with a rubber band every time they experienced same-sex attraction. Jerry said that each time he left, quote, ‘a little more destroyed’.”
The American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy have all issued cautionary statements opposing sexual orientation change efforts. An American Psychological Association Task Force concluded that sexual orientation change efforts can pose critical health risks to lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, including confusion, depression, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, shame, social withdrawal, thoughts of suicide, substance abuse, stress, disappointment, self-blame and decreased self-esteem.
"Efforts to change a young person's sexual orientation or gender identity pose critical health risks, including depression, shame, and self-harm." said Hayley Gorenberg, Deputy Legal Director of Lambda Legal in a statement to LGBTQ Nation. She added; 
"For minors, who are often subjected to these practices at the insistence of parents who don't know or don't believe that the efforts are harmful, the risks of long-term mental and physical health consequences are particularly severe. In addition, when these efforts 'fail,' many LGBTQ children are kicked out of their homes."
In a statement released Wednesday, Speier also noted:
“These practices have been rejected by every mainstream mental health association as neither safe nor effective. These efforts frequently increase family rejection, which we know make LGBT youth 8.4 times more likely than straight youth  to report attempting suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, and 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs.”
The SHOK resolution is supported and endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Trevor Project, The Southern Poverty Law Center, Truth Wins Out, Parents, Families & Friends Lesbians and Gays National and the Stop Abuse Campaign.
According to Speier's office the resolution has 15 House co-sponsors.