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Speier: Gay conversion is 'quackery'
November 29, 2012, 05:00 AM By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal staff

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, introduced a resolution yesterday to protect young people from conversion therapy.


Those who treat homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder have a major foe in U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, who introduced a resolution yesterday to protect young people from so-called conversion therapy.

"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,” Speier said yesterday.

She introduced the Stop Harming Our Kids resolution at a press conference in Washington, D.C. yesterday.

The SHOK resolution is the first federal action to end sexual orientation conversion efforts, according to Speier's office.

The SHOK resolution encourages each state to take steps to protect minors from efforts that promote or promise to change sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, based on the premise that homosexuality is a mental illness or developmental disorder that can or should be cured, according to Speier's office.

Recently, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1172, that will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children from conversion therapies intended to alter sexual orientation or gender identities and expressions.

The law goes into effect Jan. 1 and is the first of its kind in the United States.

"California led the nation on this issue when ... Brown signed SB 1172, a law that prohibits state licensed mental health professionals from engaging minors in these harmful and abusive therapies. ... Brown did the right thing and I am urging all states to consider similar laws,” Speier said at the press conference.

At yesterday's press conference, Speier announced the introduction of the SHOK resolution as well as her work to investigate whether federal funds have been spent on the practices.

Conversion therapy has been rejected as scientifically invalid by the American Psychiatric Association and other mental health groups for nearly 40 years, according to Speier's office.

Speier is also investigating whether federal taxpayer funds were spent on the practice of conversion therapy with minors through Medicaid or TRICARE reimbursements. TRICARE is the health care program for uniformed service members.

"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,” Speier said at the press conference.

Conversion therapy can have lasting ill effects, according to a statement by Wayne Besen, founder and executive director of Truth Wins Out, an organization that fights against anti-gay religious extremism.

"One of society's most important functions is to protect children from the exploitation and abuse of predators. This is why Truth Wins Out strongly supports Rep. Jackie Speier's "Stop Harming Our Kids” (SHOK) resolution. It is critical that unethical charlatans be held accountable for malice in the guise of medicine that often exacts psychological wreckage on young clients and their families,” Besen wrote in a statement.


Bill Silverfarb can be reached by email: silverfarb@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 106.


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