The Story: Supporters of the LGBT movement are working to ban one form of conversion therapy on minors while endorsing another.
The Background: Earlier this week, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill to end conversion therapy for minors. The state of Utah also recently passed a similar law. To date, eighteen other states have passed similar bans.
The Utah law adds conversion therapy to a list of practices considered to be “unprofessional conduct” for state-licensed mental health therapists. Punishments could include suspending or revoking their license, according to state law.
The new rule does not apply to clergy members or religious counselors acting in a “religious capacity,” nor does it apply to parents or grandparents “acting substantially in the capacity of a parent or grandparent and not in the capacity of a mental health therapist.”
Last fall the Utah ban received support from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In statement on the Utah Psychologist Licensing Act Rule, the LDS church issued a statement saying, “The Church denounces any therapy, including conversion and reparative therapies, that subject an individual to abusive practices, not only in Utah, but throughout the world.”
By implying that all conversion therapies are abusive, the LDS church has adopted the position of LGBT advocacy groups. For example, in 1998, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) formally issued a statement opposing psychiatric treatment “based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that a patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation” and describes attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation by practitioners as unethical.
Why It Matters: Is sexual orientation fixed or fluid? For LGBT activists, the answer depends on what position most benefits their cause. When it comes to conversion therapy to change sexual orientation, the LGBT lobby claims that homosexuality is immutable and cannot be changed. Yet in other contexts they claim that sexual orientation is fluid, especially in adolescence.
“Far from being a fixed preference,” notes Carly Cassella of Science Alerts, “the findings [of a recent large long-term study] suggest that sexual identity and attraction undergo extensive and often subtle changes throughout a person’s life, continuing long past adolescence and into adulthood, with women…