RICHMOND — A Democratic delegate in Virginia has proposed a bill that would ban licensed therapists in the state from helping youth that struggle with homosexual temptations.
Delegate Patrick Hope (D-Arlington County) introduced the legislation on Monday, which would prohibit any type of counseling or reparative therapy for those under 18. While the legislation would not affect churches or any form of pastoral guidance, it would bar licensed professionals from utilizing various practices to help homosexual youth.
“No person licensed in accordance with the provisions of this subtitle shall engage in sexual orientation change efforts with any person under 18 years of age,” HB 1135 reads. “[S]exual orientation change efforts’ include the provision of treatment, interventions, counseling, or services intended to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expressions.”
The bill, while banning therapists and counselors from assisting homosexual youth in overcoming their struggles, freely allows licensed professionals to “provide acceptance, social support, and identity exploration and development” to affirm homosexuality or transgenderism.
“It is very clear that organized psychiatry maintains that sexual orientation is not changeable, that conversion therapies do irreparable harm, and that conversion therapies should not be practiced in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Hope stated at a press conference this week, according to WTVR-TV.
Hope was joined by representatives from Equality Virginia, Alliance for Progressive Values, and People of Faith for Equality in Virginia during the conference. During his presentation, he asserted that homosexuality is neither a sin nor an abnormal mental condition.
“Conversion therapy, also called reparative therapy, is based on the false assumption that homosexuality and sexuality is a sin or a mental disorder, and it is not,” he declared. “What we’re trying to do here is try and stop any practice of forcing minors to undergo this potentially very psychologically harmful therapy.”
However, the Family Foundation of Virginia said that Hope’s bill is discriminatory “against people that leave the homosexual lifestyle” and is “insulting to thousands of people who have made this change.”
“It’s astonishing that the party that claims to defend choice and free speech [is] bent on limiting both for counselors, parents and kids struggling with their sexuality,” President Victoria Cobb told the Roanoke Times.
Should the bill pass both legislative houses, it would join California and New Jersey in nearly identical restrictions against counseling homosexual youth. However, both states are also facing lawsuits from parents who feel that their children are unfairly being kept from receiving the help that they desire.
“This bill is so broad that parents would be prohibited from seeking help for their son who developed unwanted same-sex attractions after being molested by the likes of Jerry Sandusky,” Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver wrote in a news release about the New Jersey law last year. “Counselors would only be allowed to affirm these unwanted feelings as good and normal. This is absurd and dangerous. This law would inflict serious damage to children, parents, and counselors.”
Photo: Cliffords Photography