In a well-earned triumph for children and their families, the 11th Circuit has struck down local laws in Florida that prohibit licensed therapists from providing basic talk-therapy to children who want to reduce or eliminate their same-sex attracted behaviors or feelings of confusion regarding their gender identity. The bans forced children into therapy that only guides them toward “gender transition”—including stopping their natural onset of puberty to instead pursue taking sterilizing cross-sex hormones or even life-altering surgery to remove healthy body parts. Any basic talk therapy to help children accept the bodies they were created with was banned.
In the past several years, there has been a concerted effort by LGBT-lobbyist organizations to ban therapy that allows families to receive treatment in line with their religious, ethical, or conscience beliefs. Currently, 20 states, Washington, D.C., and numerous cities and counties ban this kind of basic talk therapy, often claiming they are banning professional conduct and not speech.
These bans are devastating to families who want to seek out a licensed counselor for their child who is struggling with gender identity or sexual orientation confusion and want unbiased treatment that is tailored to their child’s needs and religious, moral, and conscience beliefs about sex and sexuality.
On Friday, the 11th Circuit ruled against the two Florida talk-therapy bans on the basis they violated the First Amendment in several ways. The three-judge panel (in a 2-1 decision), wrote that just because a therapist is providing medical treatment doesn’t automatically mean what he says can be labeled as “professional conduct” instead of “speech,” the latter having far more protections under the First Amendment.
Circuit Judge Britt Grant wrote, “the enterprise of labeling certain verbal or written communications ‘speech’ and others ‘conduct’ is unprincipled and susceptible to manipulation” (page 7 of published opinion). He went on to say the legislative power to regulate medical professions “does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed” just because “a legislative body thinks [those ideas] unsuitable for [children]” (p. 20).
Judge Grant also declared these bans unconstitutionally forced the government’s viewpoint onto families and their children that “sexual orientation is immutable, but gender is not,” (p. 12) by prohibiting therapists from saying anything opposing the government viewpoint. This is because these laws allow therapists to provide talk-therapy that supports permanent, radical gender transition or change but not basic therapy to facilitate sexual orientation transition or change.
Today, families in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia can breathe a little easier knowing the “bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment” that “the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable” (p. 27) has been upheld.
This federal circuit judgment can now be used to strike down state laws that ban talk therapy, which stifle and obliterate the fundamental right for a minor to obtain licensed professional help to reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attraction and gender identity confusion. It affirms that laws cannot impede the constitutional right to seek out the help they desire.
We applaud Liberty Counsel’s monumental efforts in bringing forward these cases and working on behalf of all families to ensure their rights are protected. We hope this is the first victory of many more to come.
By Stephanie Curry, an attorney and Policy Manager for Family Policy Alliance
Last week, we shared the jarring news that the state of Ohio had removed a young girl (who identifies as a boy) from her home because her parents refused to allow their daughter to be subject to extreme and irreversible medical interventions in the name of “gender transitioning”.
The parents of this Ohio teen girl did their research and decided experimental sex-change hormones and surgery would harm their daughter for a lifetime. The parents instead opted to get their daughter basic talk therapy. They believed therapy could help their daughter work through her depression, anxiety, and gender identity issues.
Despite what the Left believes, parents are best at parenting.
Parents are in the unique position to offer the most protection, support, and love to their child. Not the government. Yet, the state government in Ohio thinks they know better. Ohio devastated this family by removing their daughter from the protection of her parents to place her with a family who would approve the use of experimental drugs and body-mutilating procedures. Does that sound like love?
It doesn’t end there. Ohio legislators also think they know children better than parents and are currently considering a Therapy Ban Bill (SB 126) that would make certain basic talk therapy illegal. The same therapy these Ohio parents sought for their daughter.
Put a different way, some elected officials have determined that basic talk therapy to help this Ohio girl learn to love herself as a girl should be banned, but permanently sterilizing and body-mutilating medical interventions are fine.
This isn’t just happening in Ohio. Washington, New York, Maine, Maryland, Delaware, Florida and fifteen other states are considering legislation that would make talk therapy affirming children’s own biological sex illegal. California is treading on dangerous ground by seeking to make this type of therapy illegal for some adults! It is incomprehensible that leftist activists believe a teen (or even adult) is entitled to make a decision about whether or not to drastically change their body chemically and physically, but teens and their parents can’t make a decision to see a licensed therapist to help them learn to love the body they were given.
Is your state considering banning therapy for children?
This map includes all the states currently considering a Therapy Ban Bill. Purple and red represent states that are considering a therapy ban bill as you read this, though the red states are in danger of becoming law. Blue states already have a therapy ban in law. As you look at this map, you may see an opportunity to join Family Policy Alliance in taking action to defeat these bills in your state. If your state is grey, be thankful. That means your legislators haven’t bought the lie the government knows best for our children.
Thank you for standing with Family Policy Alliance to protect our children.
It’s true. One of the biggest priorities of the Left is to target mental health therapy for children. Watch Stephanie Curry’s 1-minute video from her Facebook Live appearance this week to learn more! Stephanie Curry is an attorney and Policy Manager for Family Policy Alliance.
For years, LGBT activists have insisted that it is impossible to change so-called “sexual orientation.” But now they are trying to make it illegal.
Faced with the testimonies of thousands of people who have made the journey out of homosexuality, the powerful LGBT lobby is now trying to demonize and outlaw counseling that facilitates such change—as well as counseling that helps children struggling with gender identity.
The first step is an effort to ban professional counseling for minors who have unwanted same-sex attraction or gender identity issues. Already, 34 states have been targeted with such legislation, and additional states are expected to be targeted in 2018.
But while the gay lobby has managed to pick off several states that might be considered “low-hanging fruit” – mainly West Coast and northeastern states – the vast majority of the targeted states (25) have rejected this top LGBT priority. Why?
Here are some key reasons state lawmakers have rejected these counseling bans, and why families—including families who do not have children struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender identity issues—should join the fight to reject this top LGBT priority.
1. It attacks free speech.
Banning this type of counseling censors the speech of licensed counselors by prohibiting them from offering acceptance, support and understanding of a patient’s own goals for change. Many state lawmakers recognize that the Constitution prohibits the government from censoring speech based upon viewpoint. Yet, these bills only allow speech that supports the viewpoint that all same-sex attraction or gender identity is healthy and good.
2. It strikes at the heart of parental rights.
These bills strip parents of comprehensive tools and resources to help protect their child from the psychological harm that comes from living with unwanted same-sex attraction – or the emotional distress that is caused by their child feeling alienated from their physical bodies (gender dysphoria). Parents know their children best and are in the best position to decide the right course of treatment and spiritual help for their children.
3. It abandons victims of sexual abuse.
One of the most common – and tragic – causes of same-sex attraction in children is sexual abuse. Opponents of these counseling bans recognize that it is wrong to compel a child to embrace an identity that was forced upon them by their abuser.
Jayson’s story is an example of a child who struggled with same-sex attraction after suffering from abuse—yet he received help.
4. The scare stories are being exposed.
With help from a largely complicit media, the LGBT lobbyists have trumpeted tales of abusive practices such as shock therapy. But even some ban supporters now admit that it has been decades since such “aversive” practices have been employed, and in most states any new attempt to use such practices would violate counseling standards. In fact, the LGBT lobby has opposed efforts to ban such practices, as it would make their scare stories moot and take away from their real target, which is basic “talk therapy” counseling.
Still, despite growing resistance to the counseling bans, they remain a serious threat, thanks to the power of the LGBT lobby and their allies in the media. And reports indicate that such bans may be pushed in a majority of states in 2018.
Family Policy Alliance and our network of 41 state groups is engaged on your behalf on this issue. In fact, since the initial 2013 surprise attacks in California and New Jersey, only one state with a Family Policy Alliance-allied group has passed a counseling ban.
What you can do: Be on the lookout for counseling ban legislation in your state, and if you receive such alerts from Family Policy Alliance or one of our state allies, be sure to take action and forward the alert to friends in your state. We need your help as parents and believers to stop this attack on parental rights.
Did you know that one of the big-ticket goals for LGBT activist groups is to ban basic talk therapy for minors struggling with gender identity issues or unwanted same-sex attraction in as many states as possible? Thankfully, the majority of states rejected these bans in 2017, but some, like New Mexico and Illinois, caved to the pressure.
Karen Bowling, Executive Director of Nebraska Family Alliance, one of Family Policy Alliance’s state-based allies, hosts an outstanding radio program. She recently welcomed Autumn Leva, Family Policy Alliance’s Director of Policy and Communication, to talk about the harmful consequences of these therapy bans for families & why your state should reject any efforts to pass therapy bans.
We’ve been following the heartbreaking story of UK baby Charlie Gard and his parents, Chris and Connie, as they’ve fought for the right to bring Charlie to America for experimental treatment that may have helped him.
Yesterday, Charlie’s parents decided to end their legal battle after the latest medical reports showed that Charlie’s condition had deteriorated beyond an ability for any experimental treatment to make a difference. Now, they must face saying goodbye to their son. He will likely not make it to his first birthday on August 4th.
As Charlie’s family prepares to say goodbye, those of us here in America have a responsibility to pray for this family and to consider carefully what Charlie’s parents and their lawyer are saying in news reports: “For Charlie, it is too late…treatment cannot offer a chance of success.”
Charlie’s parents said: “There is one simple reason for Charlie’s muscles deteriorating to the extent they are in now – time. A whole lot of wasted time … our poor boy has been left to just lie in hospital for months without any treatment whilst lengthy court battles have been fought.”
Charlie’s parents and attorneys believe that had they been given permission to get Charlie experimental treatment early on, he would not have deteriorated to this point.
We will never know whether the experimental treatment would’ve helped him, but that’s not the point. The point is that Charlie’s parents were willing to fight for his life, as any parent would, but they weren’t given permission to do so.
And this isn’t just a problem “across the pond.” We see parents’ rights being undermined here in America too. Just last year, our state ally in Kansas passed “Simon’s Law” to protect the right of parents to make decisions in life or death situations involving their children. The law is named after baby Simon who died after a “do not resuscitate” order was placed on his chart by a doctor—without his parents’ knowledge!
Parents in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington D.C. can no longer get their kids basic help from a counselor if they are dealing with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion—even if the children have been sexually abused. Meet our friend Rev. Jayson Graves, M. MFT, who shares why this counseling was personally so important to him.
As we work with our alliance of over 40 state family policy groups who speak up for families like yours in nearly every state across the country, we are seeing violations of parental rights occurring more frequently.
Government can set up systems with the intent to help children—like healthcare systems, and child welfare. But, government cannot love a child. God designed parents to fill that role because they are uniquely situated to do so. Parents are also uniquely situated to be children’s greatest protectors because love always protects.
As we work with our alliance of godly statesmen and stateswomen, and state-based family policy groups to protect parental rights in every state, we hope your family will partner with us. We need the resources to prepare these godly legislators to fight for parental rights at every state Capital, so please consider giving here. We also need the partnership of families like yours across the country who are prepared to speak out for parental rights so that no family faces what Charlie Gard’s has, so please also consider sharing this story with your likeminded friends and family. Encourage them to sign up for news updates with us so that we can equip parents in every state!
God’s design for parents and families is good—we hope you’ll join with us in making sure it’s protected across our country!
Jayson started struggling with same-sex attractions after being abused as a child. Thankfully, he was able to get professional counseling and coaching that continues to help him align his life with the heartfelt convictions of his faith.
But now, the ACLU and their allies are working to ban such professional counseling for minors. They want to make counseling on sexual orientation a one-way street — toward homosexuality.
Family Policy Alliance is fighting these bans and supporting our freedoms in state after state.
“This fight is for vulnerable kids — just like I was at eight years old,” says Jayson. “Family Policy Alliance is uniquely positioned to win, with 40 state groups and proven strategies to mobilize citizens effectively. I encourage everyone who cares about protecting children and parents’ rights to support the work of Family Policy Alliance.”