What If Gender-Confused Kids Can’t Get Help?

Some groups want to outlaw therapy for whose who need it. A top professional weighs in.

California Gov. Jerry Brown in 2012 signed into law a historic bill that banned licensed counseling for minors with the goal of reducing or eliminating unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA).

I remember the day earlier that spring when I corresponded with colleagues in California. They watched in disbelief as a partisan legislature passed this bill with the help of an openly gay legislator — who now represents the state of California in Congress.

This legislator, prompted by gay activists, told horror stories of electroshock therapy and other aversive methods to “cure” homosexuality — methods not used since the 1960s. No doubt the legislator believed his cause was a noble one. If parents are forcing their lesbian-, gay-, bisexual- or transgender-identified (LGBT) children into licensed therapy against their will, to “cure” them of their sexual or gender identity, certainly this is something that should be regulated. Further, if a counselor is using antiquated methods like electroconvulsive treatments to change behavior, this practice should not be permitted.

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Both licensed therapy and counseling treatments, in fact, are already regulated.

In every state, licensed counselors swear by a code of ethics that dictates their allegiance to the client — not the client’s parents, family or religion. The counselor must agree that the fundamental oath to the client is “do no harm” and respect the client’s right of self-determination. If the counselor cannot affirm the client’s goal, the ethical duty is to refer the patient to a qualified practitioner who can.

This cuts both ways: If a religious counselor cannot affirm the sexual identity of an LGBT client, he/she must refer. Conversely, if a therapist cannot affirm the right of a client to overcome unwanted sexual issues, the duty is the same.

Ethically and Morally Wrong
I cannot tell you how many clients have come to me over the past six years with frustration, having been told by their gay-affirming therapist that they were “born this way” and should not attempt to resolve their unwanted same-sex attractions. Not only is this scientifically incorrect, it’s ethically and morally wrong for this counselor not to refer their client to another practitioner.

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Such ethical abuses are regulated, and states have the ability to sanction and correct such behavior. Further, aversive methods such as electroconvulsive therapy, which rarely are practiced for any therapeutic issue today, are highly regulated and used only in mental institutions licensed to operate such high-risk treatments.

No run-of-the-mill counselor would ever be licensed to practice such a treatment. As a practitioner who is nationally known, I am aware of all the colleagues in my field who work in sexual identity (there aren’t many of us). And I have never heard of anyone using such methods. If I did, I would actively discourage such harmful practices.

The reality is that gay activists and misinformed politicians wag the tail of the dog with horror stories of therapy torture at the hands of licensed professionals, but such tales are not based in reality. We saw this on display in 2013 when a troubled New Jersey transgender woman named Brielle Goldani claimed to have been tortured at a camp called “True Directions.” After the claim was investigated, it turned out that “True Directions” existed only in a 1999 satire movie starring drag queen Ru Paul.

Since that time, other stories of “ice baths” surfaced in the state of Washington as the legislature debated a similar bill to ban therapy, but these tall tales were never confirmed. Recently a very troubled young gay man, Samuel Brinton, the premier spokesperson for the National Center of Lesbian Rights (NCLR), has been telling his story of “therapy torture” far and wide. We now have testimony from Brinton’s parents and evidence that he never saw a therapist who specialized in sexual identity, but that he sought out regular counseling as a young person for his mental health issues.

The truth is that not even hardcore gay activists can verify Brinton’s story — yet that has not stopped the NCLR and its #BornPerfect campaign from using him for profit. And profit, it is.

Every year, gay activist groups like the NCLR, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Human Rights Campaign raise millions to promote the false premise that people are born gay, despite the insurmountable lack of scientific evidence to prove this notion. This effort is nothing short of consumer fraud, one that our National Task Force for Therapy Equality is going to bring to the attention of the Federal Trade Commission.

Since 2012, three other states — New Jersey, Illinois and Oregon — as well as the District of Columbia and the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, have passed similar legislation. And while the #TherapyEquality movement has defeated 15 other bills in states across the country, these efforts by gay activists, funded with millions, are only intensifying. Their goal is to stamp out any professional who seeks to help people distressed by unwanted SSA — not gay-identified youth, as they will have you believe, but young people who came to unwanted same-sex attractions due to sexual abuse or confusion.

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This brings us to an important question: What if gay activists succeed in their efforts to ban licensed therapy for children and families?

Just last month, lesbian Alex Cooper published the book, “Saving Alex,” which states, “For eight harrowing months, Alex was held captive in an unlicensed ‘residential treatment program’ where she was physically and verbally abused, and many days she was forced to stand facing a wall wearing a heavy backpack full of rocks.”

Alex is now being used by gay activists in their campaign to eliminate therapy rights for families and children.

Suspect Motives
But the goals of these activists are so counterintuitive. If they shut down licensed therapy, ignorant unlicensed “counselors” will continue to abuse the “Alex Coopers” of the world, which will only cause more harm and damage. This is proof that gay activists really have no interest in protecting children. Their ultimate goal is to indoctrinate a generation of youth who are not savvy enough to understand the difference between fringe “counselors” and licensed professionals.

Their campaign is not based on equality, but bigotry for those individuals who do not share their political ideology.

Legislators in every state need to remind these activists: The ends do not justify your means. If you want to really protect youth, our Task Force will actively work with you. But don’t sacrifice the lives of youth at your altar of political ideology while pretending to be noble. It’s just plain wrong.

Christopher Doyle is a licensed professional counselor, executive director of the Institute for Healthy Families, and co-coordinator of the National Task Force for Therapy Equality—#TherapyEquality.

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