Conversion Therapy Bans: Judge Says “No & Pay Up”

2023 | Week of April 24 | Radio Transcript #1513

As radical gender ideology continues to spread throughout health care in the U.S., the left is taking aim at practices that stand in its way while disregarding First Amendment freedoms and the needs of people.

Currently, 20 states have banned the intentionally misnamed “conversion therapy,” which is actually just the practice of providing counseling to help individuals with same-sex attraction or gender confusion reorient in synch with their God-given sexuality. However, the name “conversion therapy” – a misnomer much like “reproductive health care” in relation to abortion – is intentionally used by the left to conjure up images of patients being effectively tortured, badgered, or bullied into renouncing homosexual interests or abandoning transgenderism.

Banning counseling efforts to guide a patient through struggles with their sexual orientation is a direct violation of free speech, freedom of religion, and patients’ freedom to seek the treatment they want. It also threatens parents’ rights to direct the mental health care and education of their children.

Some on the left are even attempting to expand the definition of “conversion therapy” to include any form of opposition to homosexuality and transgenderism. Doing so could conceivably criminalize even private conversations in which individuals advocate for abstinence from homosexuality or biblical sermons on God’s design for human sexuality.

Those struggling with any mental health problem need guidance rooted in Truth and reality, not in lies rooted in the baseless religion of progressivism.

Despite the lack of data regarding the psychological ramifications of the “gender-affirming” approach, and the growing body of evidence that this method doesn’t remedy mental health problems, the left wants “affirmation” to be the only therapy available to struggling minors.

Boca Raton, Florida, and Palm Beach County passed laws prohibiting so-called “conversion therapy” for minors in 2017. Two plaintiffs, marriage and family therapists Robert Otto and Julie Hamilton, filed lawsuits arguing that their therapy was voluntary and focused on reducing unwanted homosexual attraction rather than changing the client.

In 2020, a three-judge panel of the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that these bans violated the First Amendment rights of these counselors.

Then, just a few weeks ago, as a result of these cases and decisions, a federal judge ordered the city of Boca Raton to pay a combined $75,000 in damages to the two therapists who brought the case, while also ordering Palm Beach County to pay a fine of $100,000 for passing the ban.

Liberty Counsel, which represented the plaintiffs, said in a statement that the judge’s order should “be a warning to any government that has not repealed similar counseling bans.”

Several municipalities in Wisconsin have audaciously enacted these bans that blatantly violate counselors’ First Amendment freedoms and rob confused minors of the real help and hope they need. Hopefully, these local governments in our state pay attention to this case and reverse course.

At the state level, late last year, the Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Counseling and Social Work Examining Board declared any licensed marriage and family therapist, counselor, or social worker who did any counseling that did not affirm, encourage, or assist a client of any age with trying to change one’s gender, or to not act on his or her same-sex attraction, would be guilt of unethical, unprofessional conduct and could even lose their license.  This rule clearly trounces on the freedom of speech and freedom of religion of counselors who have not bought the pernicious lies of their own profession and of the culture at large.

Fortunately, the state legislature stepped in and has suspended this rule. However, the suspension is not indefinite, lasting only through December 31, 2024. For this to be a permanent suspension, the governor would need to sign a bill that the legislature would pass. The current governor would never sign such a bill.  Keeping this dastardly rule suspended will require ongoing vigilance, but at least for now it’s not in effect.

We hope and pray that the Florida case is the first of many victories, including substantial financial fines, when it comes to restoring religious liberty and free speech in mental health care, especially as it relates to the transgender epidemic. Certainly, all the Wisconsin communities where these bans have been enacted should immediately do the right thing and revoke such policies, saving the taxpayers money, respecting First Amendment rights, and protecting mentally and emotionally confused minors.

This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

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