Bill would bar reparative therapy for Texas youth; garners national praise

Posted on 17 Mar 2015 at 12:46pm
Celia-Israel

Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin.

Bill filing season has ended in the Texas Legislature, and the sausage making has begun. The March 13 issue of Dallas Voice includes a list of bills that had been filed as of 5 p.m. Thursday, March 12.

Friday, March 13, was the last day for your favorite cattle callers to crack their whips. And a few of ‘em filed some doozies; some good, most predictably bad.

Among the good bills is HB 3495 filed by Rep. Celia Israel, an out lesbian and Democratic lawmaker from Austin, that would ban the harmful and discredited practice of reparative therapy on minors.

Similar bills have gained steam in other states and already California, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. have  enacted laws protecting LGBT youth from the discredited practice.

Numerous national groups, including the Human Rights Campaign and National Center for Lesbian Rights, lauded the move in a statement.

“No child should be subjected to this extremely harmful and discredited so-called therapy,” said Human Rights Campaign National Field Director Marty Rouse. “These harmful practices are based on the false claim that being LGBT is a mental illness that should be cured, using fear and shame to tell young people that the only way to find love or acceptance is to change the very nature of who they are. Psychological abuse has no place in therapy, no matter the intention.”

“We commend Representative Israel on making the lives of LGBT children a priority, as well all the local organizers who have worked tirelessly to get this bill introduced and ensure all Texans have the opportunity to grow up in a safe community where they are loved for exactly who they are,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Staff Attorney and #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator Samantha Ames.

Legislative observers expressed concern a bill condoning the practice would be filed at the last minute after the June 2014 Texas Republican Party convention voted to include a plank, submitted by Texas Eagle Forum’s Cathie Adams of Dallas, embracing conversion therapy.

Then-Texas Republican Party chair Steve Munisteri told Texas Public Radio he disagreed with the language. “And I just make the point for anybody that thinks that may be the possibility: Do they think they can take a straight person to a psychiatrist and turn them gay?”

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