U.S. Rep. introduces resolution against ex-gay therapy

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U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier. - PHOTO: Provided

Democratic U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier of San Francisco has offered a resolution – Stop Harming Our Kids – intended to curb the use of conversion or ex-gay therapy.

SHOK’s co-sponsors include Democrats Ted Deutch of Florida and David Cicilline of Rhode Island.

Speier’s office said the resolution is the first congressional action intended to end the long-discredited practice of “ex-gay” therapy.

At a press conference, Speier said, “Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered is not a disease to be cured or a mental illness that requires treatment. Any effort to change sexual orientation is not medicine, it’s quackery, and we should not be supporting it with taxpayer dollars.”

She referred to California’s passage of a bill banning state licensed mental health professionals from employing ex-gay therapy in the counseling of minors.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the legislation this summer. Speier said, “Gov. Brown did the right thing and I am urging all states to consider similar laws.”

The SHOK resolution encourages states to protect minors from efforts that promote or promise to change sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

Speier’s office also is looking into whether any federal funds have gone to efforts to promote conversion therapy, possibly through Medicaid or TRICARE reimbursements.

“In my cursory investigation, I have found two additional instances of so-called mental health professionals that advertise these services and appear to be eligible for federal dollars. This morning, I sent letters of inquiry to Medicaid and TRICARE to determine if these instances reflect systemic weaknesses that allow federal taxpayer dollars to go to harmful, illegitimate medical services,” said the congresswoman, who was joined at the press conference by therapy survivors Sheldon Bruck and Jerry Spencer, social worker Laura Booker and representatives from the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Human Rights Campaign.