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The Problem with House Bill 2451

This post was written by Rebecca Faust

House Bill 2451, banning sexual orientation change efforts for minors, is scheduled for a public hearing before the House Health Care & Wellness Committee this Wednesday.

Sexual orientation change efforts refers to therapies provided to help people get rid of or reduce unwanted same-sex attractions or to identify and behave in accordance with their birth gender. As used in the law, the term applies to therapies regardless of whether they target feelings or behavior, but doesn’t include therapy to avoid illegal behavior or promote self-acceptance as long as the therapies don’t hold one sexual orientation as being better than another. The bill would make it “unprofessional conduct,” subject to disciplinary action, for mental health therapists, as well as a number of other professionals, to provide such therapies.

This bill is concerning for the following reasons.

First, it makes it more difficult for teens struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions to get help. Presumably, pastors will still be a source of guidance for these vulnerable youths. But it would be better if they could also have the resources of trained therapists (in addition to spiritual leaders). Please tell legislators to let mental healthcare providers offer a full range of therapies to youth.

Second, it takes away from parents the decision of what therapy options are best for their children. Perhaps some of you may think that therapy to eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions is not the best option for a child. But unless you are the child’s parents, you shouldn’t make that decision. Please tell legislators to uphold the right of parents to make these decisions for their children.

Third, it discriminates again a conservative – or Christian – viewpoint on sexuality. The law would allow therapies to encourage youth to accept their same-sex attractions or identification with a gender other than their birth sex, as long as the therapist doesn’t hold one sexual orientation out to be better than another. But it would ban therapies which help confused youth come to a Biblical understanding of gender and conform their feelings or behavior to it.  Please tell legislators to respect the right of those with a conservative view of sexuality to express it and receive therapy consistent with it.

Please let your legislators know how you feel about this bill. You can send a message to them by email, or by calling the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000. You may also wish to attend the public hearing on Wednesday, January 22, at 8:00 a.m. It will be at the state capital in Olympia, in the O’Brien Building, Hearing Room B. If you attend the hearing, please arrive early and don’t forget to sign in.


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