Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Virginia's Professional Licensing Boards to End Conversion Therapy for Minors

In further confirmation that elections matter and every vote needs to be cast and counted, Virginia's professional licensing boards under Democrat Governor Ralph Northam plan to take steps to ban "ex-gay" conversion therapy for minors. Time will tell whether the General Assembly will take a further step and enact legislation making the ban permanent or whether Republicans will continue to prostitute themselves to The Family Foundation, a foul anti-hate group based in Richmond. As noted repeatedly on this blog, EVERY legitimate medical and mental health association - i.e., those not staffed by and funded by Christofascist quacks - condemns the practice.  The fraudulent nature of this "therapy" was spotlighted in the recent movie "Boy Erased."  Expect wailing and gnashing of teeth from the usual hate merchants and Christian Dominionist extremists.  Here are highlights from a piece in WUSA9-TV on this development:
As early as this month, Virginia’s professional licensing boards could take the first steps toward ending the practice of conversion therapy for minors in the state.
A workgroup of representatives from five professional boards – psychology, counseling, social work, nursing and medicine – convened in October to hash out regulations that would prohibit state-licensed members of their professions from providing therapy intended to change a person’s sexual orientation.
Conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy or sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), is a practice – viewed by most mental health organizations as not just ineffective, but potentially harmful – that seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual, or at least to diminish what supporters call “unwanted same-sex attraction.” It is illegal to perform conversion therapy on minors in 14 states and the District of Columbia, and on anyone of any age in New York City.
Every major professional mental health organization in the country opposes conversion therapy; over the past two decades, all of them have released some version of a statement echoing the American Psychiatric Association, which said in 2013 that, “No credible evidence exists that any mental health intervention can reliably and safely change sexual orientation; nor, from a mental health perspective does sexual orientation need to be changed.”
The National Association of Social Workers says, “…no data demonstrate that reparative or conversion therapies are effective, and in fact they may be harmful.” The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that youth should “avoid any treatments that claim to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation.”
In Virginia, bills have been proposed for the past several years by state Sen. Scott Surovell and Del. Patrick Hope, both Democrats, to add the Commonwealth to the list of states banning conversion therapy for minors – the latest effort being Senate Bill 245, submitted in 2018. So far, no such legislation has been able to overcome opposition by Republican members of the legislature and conservative religious groups in the state – the latter of which say they believe banning conversion therapy is an infringement upon their religious liberty.
Another opponent of the bill, representing the Virginia Catholic Conference, said the organization feared outlawing conversion therapy for minors could put clergy who are also licensed therapists at risk of losing their license.
Dr. Herb Stewart, the Board of Psychology chairman, said he believes the five boards left that workgroup generally supportive of passing their own regulations banning the practice. Stewart said he’s heard the testimony from conversion therapy supporters, but believes a regulatory ban is the right move for Virginia.
“Some of these therapists are well-meaning. Some of them are driven much more by ideology,” Stewart said. “But the bottom line is, I think that it’s sufficiently harmful and clearly ineffective, and I think it’s the role of the state to come in and say it’s not OK. You can’t do that. Whether it’s peddling bad food or peddling snake oil or providing conversion therapy. I think it’s an important role for us to take, and I hope that we can move this forward.”
I would estimate that there are likely hundreds of adolescents who would undergo this harmful and ineffective intervention without change in regulation,” he said. “We also heard public comment at the conversion therapy work group stating that licensees were engaged in this work in Virginia."
Stewart said he anticipates the Board of Psychology, which will meet first of the five boards in 2019, will take up the issue at its quarterly meeting in January. If the board is in agreement, the members could adopt a notice of intended regulatory action (NOIRA), which would then begin a roughly 18-month process ending with the implementation of new regulation.
Virginia won’t be alone in looking at banning or regulating conversion therapy in 2019. Last month, Denver’s mayor and members of its city council announced a bill that would make it the first city in Colorado to ban the practice for minors. And in Texas, a Democratic lawmaker is proposing a bill that would ban the practice for minors statewide.

Note the opposition by the Virginia Catholic Conference which represents an institution that has conspired to cover up the sexual abuse of children and youths by Catholic clergy. What parent in their right mind would want a Catholic priest counseling their child on sexual matters?  Why offer a potential predator a chance to molest a child or youth? 

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