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Calif. To Prevent Minors from ’Ex-Gay’ Therapies

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Friday April 27, 2012

A California Senate committee recently advanced a bill that would protect citizens from having to undergo controversial "ex-gay" therapy, Think Progress reported.

The legislation does not directly outlaw "ex-gay" therapy (also known as conversion therapy) but states that anyone under the age of 18 is prohibited from receiving "sexual orientation change efforts." The law also requires patients to sign an "informed consent form," which has a disclaimer.

"Having a lesbian, gay, or bisexual sexual orientation is not a mental disorder. There is no scientific evidence that any types of therapies are effective in changing a person's sexual orientation," the disclaimer reads. "Sexual orientation change efforts can be harmful. The risks include, but are not limited to, depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior.

Medical and mental health associations that oppose the use of sexual orientation change efforts include the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Counseling Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy."

In March the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights group based in Montgomery, Ala., reported that the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), a leading organization that offers conversion therapy, is the "preeminent source of what many regard as junk science for the religious right."

The "ex-gay" movement received another huge blow last month when Robert Spitzer, a psychiatrist who published a controversial study in 2001 that claimed gays could become straight, retracted his findings.

"In retrospect, I have to admit I think the critiques are largely correct," Spitzer said. "The findings can be considered evidence for what those who have undergone ex-gay therapy say about it, but nothing more."

He went on to say that conversion therapy "can be quite harmful." He asked writer Gabriel Arana of the American Prospect to publish an official retraction of his study, "so I don't have to worry about it anymore."