Doggedly committed to pro-homoeroticism, lesbian activist State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) has resurrected the dangerous “Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act,” which seeks to prohibit minors from receiving any counseling that involves efforts to change homoerotic desire, homoerotic activity, gender-confused feelings, and behaviors impelled by gender confusion.
This doozy of a bill states that “‘Sexual orientation change efforts’ or ‘conversion therapy’” means any practices or treatments that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation, as defined by (o-1) of Section 1-103 of the Illinois Human Rights Act, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions.” Unlike the more common definition of “sexual orientation,” the Illinois Human Rights Act defines “sexual orientation” as “actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or gender-related identity, whether or not traditionally associated with the person’s designated sex at birth.”
If passed this bill would prohibit parents of a child or teenager who experiences homoerotic desire, gender dysphoria, or Gender Identity Disorder from having access to counseling that may include facilitating change in feelings or volitional activity—even if such change is desired by both parents and their children.
Cassidy’s oppressive anti-autonomy, anti-parental rights bill seeks to ban any counseling that may result in the rejection of a “gay” identity. This bill seeks to rob minors of the freedom to seek ways of constructing an identity that don’t include affirming their unchosen homoerotic feelings. Liberals like Cassidy don’t believe that it’s possible for people who experience unchosen homoerotic feelings to construct such an identity and want to impose their philosophical and moral assumptions on everyone in America.
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Such a bill would be more accurately titled the “Anti-Identity-Choice Act” because what homosexual activists like Cassidy seek to do is legally prohibit mental health professionals from even discussing ways to construct identity that do not affirm same-sex attraction. Surely though, if mental health providers are permitted to help minors pursue radical changes in their “gender expression,” including even sanctioning cross-dressing and the use of hormone-blockers, they should be allowed to help minors pursue changes in their sexual identities. If minors are allowed to reject their physical embodiment, why shouldn’t they be allowed to reject their homoerotic feelings? Cassidy needs to explain why the rejection of one’s objective, biological sex is viewed as sound, right, healthy, and legally permissible while the rejection of one’s homoerotic feelings is viewed as unsound, wrong, unhealthy, and legally prohibited.
While the Left wants minors to be able to change their “gender identity” (or access oral contraceptives and abortions) with absolute, unfettered freedom, they want minors to be prohibited from even hearing any ideas that may be linked to their unchosen same-sex attraction, because such ideas undermine the unproven, non-factual, self-serving assumptions of homosexual activists and their highly politicized, Leftist mental health community allies.
The sponsors of this bill have marshalled an unimpressive array of claims from mental “health” organizations, all of which are loaded with biased and ambiguous language in support of an astoundingly totalitarian bill. If we have any really good critical thinkers and debaters in Springfield, they should be able to shred this bill in a floor debate. (That said, I’ve learned that floor debates are not debates in any true sense of the word. Participants in even a faux-debate should challenge contentions and demand evidence for claims.)
Questions for the bill’s sponsors
This bill raises a number of questions—all of which would be good for lawmakers to pose to Cassidy:
- What specifically constitutes “sexual orientation change efforts”?
- The bill cites the AMA’s criticism of one type of therapy (i.e., aversion therapy). Is that the only form of therapy that would be prohibited by this bill?
- Would a 17-year-old who experiences homoerotic feelings but wants to construct an identity that does not include affirming those feelings be allowed to get help from a mental health provider for such an endeavor?
- Would a 14-year-old who experiences homoerotic feelings and admits to having been sexually molested be allowed to explore the connection between sexual molestation and homoerotic feelings with a mental health provider?
- The bill claims that homosexuality is not a “disorder, deficiency, or shortcoming,” stating that “The major professional associations of mental health practitioners and researchers in the United States have recognized this fact for nearly 40 years.” What specifically does this mean? Are the bill’s sponsors asserting as fact that engaging in homoerotic activity is not morally disordered, morally deficient, or a moral shortcoming? If so, where is their conclusive scientific proof for such a claim about the moral status of freely chosen activity?
- One of the “expert” organizations cited refers to “bias” and “societal prejudice,” neither term of which is defined. Is the belief that voluntary homoerotic activity is immoral proof of bias and prejudice? So, for example, since Pope Francis, Oxford University law professor John Finnis, Princeton University law professor Robert George, and New Testament scholar N.T. Wright believe that homoerotic activity is immoral, are they—in Cassidy’s view—biased and prejudiced? If the bill’s sponsors think such moral beliefs about homoerotic activity are inherently biased and prejudiced then they must include their definitions of “bias” and “prejudice” in the bill.
- The bill cites the American Psychological Association’s (APA) claim “that sexual orientation change efforts can pose critical health risks to lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.” Note that the APA did not claim that such efforts do pose risks but rather that they can. Additionally, the claim does not identify if all “sexual orientation change efforts” pose such risks. Nor does the bill provide conclusive, incontrovertible proof for this nebulous claim. The bill’s sponsors should be asked which specific “sexual orientation change efforts” have been unequivocally proven to cause serious health risks and asked to provide their incontravertible proof.
- The bill cites the APA’s admission that there exists “anecdotal reports of ‘cures’” which are “counterbalanced by anecdotal reports of psychological harm.” Someone should ask Cassidy, why she believes there are quotation marks around the word “’cures’” while no such marks surround “harm.” Then someone should ask if she believes anecdotal reports of “harm” should be treated the same as anecdotal reports of cures.
- The bill cites the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s claim that “there is no medically valid basis for attempting to prevent homosexuality.” Might this statement hold true for other conditions for which people seek counseling, like “minor-attraction,” paraphilias, and relationship problems? Couldn’t an argument be made that “there is no medically valid basis for attempting to change” minor attraction, or paraphilias, or relationship dysfunction? In addition, aren’t there reasons other than medical reasons for which people seek counseling?
- The bill claims that “Minors who experience family rejection based on their sexual orientation face especially serious health risks.” First, what does this have to do with prohibiting certain therapeutic modalities? And second, not all parents who believe homoerotic activity is immoral reject their children. Merely holding the belief that homoerotic activity is immoral no more constitutes rejection of minor children who experience unchosen homoerotic attraction or engage in homoerotic activity than does disapproval of polyamorous activity constitute rejection of minors who experience polyamorous feelings or engage in polyamorous activity.
- The bill cites the National Association of Social Workers’ claim that “sexual orientation conversion therapies assume that homosexual orientation is…freely chosen.” This claim could mean two different things. It could mean that some therapies assume homoerotic feelings are freely chosen, or it could mean that some therapies assume a “gay identity” is freely chosen—which, of course, is true. Cassidy should explain which of these two interpretations is correct. More important, if the justification for banning “sexual orientation conversion therapies” is related to the claim that homosexuality is freely chosen, shouldn’t Cassidy identify which specific therapeutic modalities make that claim?
- The bill cites the National Association of Social Workers’ claim that “no data demonstrates that reparative or conversion therapies are effective.” But what about, for example, the study conducted by Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse and published in the book Ex-gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Medicated Change in Sexual Orientation that suggests that some therapeutic modalities can result in “sexual orientation” change in some people?
- The bill cites the American Counseling Association Governing Council’s statement that they “oppose the promotion of ‘reparative therapy’ as a ‘cure’ for individuals who are homosexual,” which is a very specific and limited claim. So, would therapeutic models that do not promote therapy as a “cure” but instead allow for the possibility of change or allow for the construction of an identity that does not affirm homoerotic feelings, activity, and relationships be permissible?
- The bill cites the American Psychoanalytic Association’s claim that “Psychoanalytic technique does not encompass purposeful attempts to ‘convert,’ ‘repair,’ change or shift an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” If passed would this bill allow for discussions that are not initiated by mental health providers but rather are initiated by minors who desire to purposefully pursue shifts in their sexuality identity?
- What is the goal of mental health practice?
- Is the goal of mental health practice to eliminate all guilt?
- Is the goal to affirm all feelings, desires, or attractions? If not, how do the bill’s sponsors determine which feelings must be affirmed?
- Is the goal to prevent or alleviate depression by any and all means (including even affirming non-factual, subjective assumptions as unassailable, incontrovertible facts)?
- Might a healthy identity ever entail rejection of or resistance to feelings, desires, attractions, or volitional acts?
- Can sound mental health practice include helping people of faith—including minors—to incorporate their religious beliefs—including orthodox religious beliefs—into their construction of identity or their choice of life path?
- Is our contemporary mental health community capable of responsibly and ethically treating those whose faith is central to their identity?
- Is the rejection of or hostility to the existence of God corrupting social science research and counseling?
- Has society elevated unstable social science research to an omniscient, godlike epistemological status it does not warrant?
- What if the Left’s assumptions about guilt, shame, depression, homosexuality, gender confusion, morality, and identity are in reality false?
More flaws in the bill
Here are some criticisms of the resurrected “conversion therapy” ban:
- It fails to distinguish between counseling in which explorations of potential links between same-sex attraction and family dysfunction, peer rejection, or childhood molestation take place and other discredited and abusive aversion therapies. In other words, it fails to distinguish between coercive attempts to eradicate same-sex attraction and counseling efforts that would allow a teenager who wants to find a life path that does not involve affirming his or her same-sex attraction as central to his or her identity.
- It fails to acknowledge that it is a belief—not a fact—that the only path to happiness for those who experience unchosen same-sex attraction is affirmation of those feelings.
- It fails to distinguish between unchosen same-sex feelings and/or voluntary homoerotic activity, and persons. It says, “being lesbian, gay, or bisexual is not a…disorder…deficiency, or shortcoming.” Such a statement fails to distinguish between feelings and acts and between feelings/acts and persons, thereby revealing that this legislative project is infused with Leftist assumptions about identity.
- It fails to acknowledge that science has not proved that homoerotic desire is 100 percent heritable or biologically determined, in which case it is possible that it is caused or influenced by environment. If same-sex attraction is influenced in some cases by environment, it is possible that it can in some cases change. Moreover, would the influence of biology in the development of homoerotic attraction necessarily mean homoerotic activity is inherently moral? That question stands far outside the purview of both hard science and unstable social “science.”
This is not a bill created essentially to protect minors. It’s yet another pernicious effort to forcibly rid the culture of any suggestion that homoerotic activity may be immoral, or any suggestion that homoerotic desire can in some people change, or of any suggestion that individuals who experience unchosen homoerotic desire may choose to construct a meaningful identity that does not affirm such desire. All humans experience unchosen, powerful, and persistent feelings that for a variety of reasons they choose not to affirm, act upon, or place at the center of their identity. For some, that unchosen, powerful, and persistent desire is homoerotic attraction.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.