On Saturday, Gov. Jerry Brown of California signed Senate Bill 1172, which officially bans so-called “ex-gay” therapy for minors.
The law goes into effect January 1, 2013, and prohibits state-licensed therapists from engaging in “reparative therapy” with minors. Advocates for the bill say that conversion therapy uses dangerous tactics that place youth at a high risk of depression and suicide.
Reparative therapy—an umbrella term for various methods that often incorporate prayer or designate a childhood incident as a “root” for homosexuality—have been soundly condemned by the World Health Organization, the American Psychological Association and almost every other professional therapeutic group in America. (Adults can still seek such treatment, but do so with informed consent, not as the helpless victims of their parents or guardians)
Two men who had endured such therapy, Ryan Kendall and Peter Drake, told the California assembly committee of business, professions, and consumer protection about their experiences
“As a young teen, the anti-gay practice of so-called conversion therapy destroyed my life and tore apart my family,” Kendall said. “In order to stop the therapy that misled my parents into believing that I could somehow be made straight, I was forced to run away from home, surrender myself to the local department of human services, and legally separate myself from my family. At the age of 16, I had lost everything. My family and my faith had rejected me, and the damaging messages of conversion therapy, coupled with this rejection, drove me to the brink of suicide.”