Over the weekend California Governor Jerry Brown signed three bills into law creating important new protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people – and their families – in the state.
The one that’s been getting the most buzz nationally is Senate Bill 1172, a ban on so-called “ex-gay” therapy for minors, an industry built on junk science and religious bias. As the American Psychological Association put it in a 2007 Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, “efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm.”
The new law in California, effective January 1, 2013, prohibits “a mental health provider, as defined, from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts, as defined, with a patient under 18 years of age. The bill would provide that any sexual orientation change efforts attempted on a patient under 18 years of age by a mental health provider shall be considered unprofessional conduct and shall subject the provider to discipline by the provider’s licensing entity.”
“This bill bans non-scientific ‘therapies’ that have driven young people to depression and suicide,” Brown said, in a statement over the weekend. “These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.”
It’s groundbreaking legislation, to be sure, but is a significantly watered-down version of the original bill, which would have offered more protections for people of all ages. The law also applies only to licensed or credentialed mental health professionals, meaning religious leaders, ministers, or counselors may still be able to offer “ex-gay” quackery without regulation.
Brown also signed California Assembly Bill 1856, an amendment to the Health and Safety Code and the Welfare and Institutions Code relating to foster care services. The new law requires “the training for an administrator of a group home facility, licensed foster parent, and relative or nonrelative extended family member caregiver, to also include instruction on cultural competency and sensitivity relating to, and best practices for, providing adequate care to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth
in out-of-home care” and provides “that foster children also have the right to have caregivers and child welfare personnel who have received instruction on cultural competency and sensitivity relating to, and best practices for, providing adequate care to LGBT youth in out-of-home care.”
A third bill signed by Brown over the weekend, California Assembly Bill 2356, amends the Health and Safety Code regarding human tissue donation, ensuring access to safe and effective fertility services for all women, including single women and lesbian or bisexual women in same-sex relationships.
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