RICHMOND — A bill that would ban licensed therapists in Virginia from helping youth that struggle with homosexual temptations failed in a House committee on Thursday.
As previously reported, Delegate Patrick Hope (D-Arlington County) introduced the legislation last week, 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.
“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,” Hope asserted at a press conference about the legislation. “What we’re trying to do here is try and stop any practice of forcing minors to undergo this potentially very psychologically harmful therapy.”
On Thursday, the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Subcommittee heard testimony from both those who supported and opposed the bill.
According to the Virginian-Pilot, 35-year-old Gail Dickert told the committee that she had been advised by those from various churches she attended from her youth that she was “not right with God.” She stated that she was also warned that she couldn’t have the position in the church that she desired if she did not repent. She said the experiences she had left “scars” that stayed with her for 20 years.
However, 32-year-old Christopher Doyle, who told the committee that child sexual abuse had a role in his homosexual temptations, said that he is happily married today because of the help that he received in his youth.
“I am truly living my dream today, with no same-sex attractions,” he said. “No one is simply born a homosexual. … This legislation is not about protecting young people; it’s really about imposing a political agenda.”
John Linder of Richmond (no age provided) agreed.
“I found restoration therapy to be tremendously helpful and life-changing,” he said, according to the Daily Press. “My sexual orientation has been transformed.”
Committee members ultimately concluded that the arguments against therapy and counseling for youth were not convincing enough to be banned. HB 1135 then was struck down in the committee by a 4 to 1 vote, with Del. Robert Krupicka (D-Alexandria) being the sole vote for the legislation.
California and New Jersey are the only two states that currently ban reparative or conversion therapy. 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.
Photo: Doug Kerr