On Aug. 25, a legislative committee heard testimony on a proposed bill for 2021, to ban “gay conversion therapy.” Opponents of the bill refer to it as the “counseling censorship ban.” Two such bills were introduced in the 2020 session, but neither moved — HB 199 by Rep. Lisa Willner (D-Louisville) and SB 85 by Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr (R-Lexington).
Willner is the head of the Kentucky Psychological Association, one of many professional psychological associations who have taken activist liberal political positions on a number of issues and who have actively opposed any efforts by individual psychologists to help gays who want to go straight.
Last year’s two bills and the proposed bill for 2021 would ban conversion therapy for anyone under the age of 18.
Daniel Mingo, of Abba’s Delight (a ministry to those who have unwanted same-sex attractions) told Licensing and Occupations Committee members, “These same individuals can receive help if they want to be gay. But if they want to live a heterosexual life, following their religious convictions, they’re out of luck.”
This is not the only strange inconsistency in the arguments for counseling censorship bans. In fact, many of the same people who oppose conversion therapy for minors are advocates of gender reassignment surgery for the same minors. So, it’s not as if they are terribly concerned about the actual health of the minors they pretend to be protecting.
Very little of the opposition to conversion therapy is motivated by health concerns, and the professional associations, who now oppose the practice, did not come to their positions through any scientific process.
Organizations like the American Psychological Association once categorized homosexuality as a mental disorder, and their change in position on the issue was not the result of any scientific evidence that contradicted their earlier opinions. Their opinion changed because of political pressure from gay organizations. And so far as anyone knows, political pressure is not a scientific process.
When a bill was introduced in the 2020 legislative session earlier this year, The Family Foundation announced its opposition to it and my comments were carried in several media outlets. I received an email from one of the promoters of the counseling censorship bill offering to discuss the issue with me. I said I would be happy to and suggested that she send me an email with her arguments, which she kindly sent.
What I received, however, was not primarily scientific arguments, but arguments showing what polls had found about conversion therapy, and a list of the professional associations that publicly opposed it.
I responded to this nice lady asking what other medical procedures were regulated on the basis of public opinion polls and why, in a scientific world in which research is supposed to be valued, appeals to authority would be employed in support of a position.
Wasn’t science invented partly to take the place of appeals to authority? Would the people who now condemn the practice of conversion therapy have been in favor of it when these same groups were in favor of it? Would they change their minds if these groups changed their positions tomorrow?
Of course not.
Of the arguments that had to do with science at all, one cited several specific practices that are part of some kinds of “conversion therapy” that they consider to be harmful¯ (“a variety of shaming, emotionally traumatic or physically painful stimuli,” etc.). Why not ban these particular practices, regardless of what they are used to do? Why say it bans conversion therapies as a category, when actually it bans merely talking with an individual?
And if conversion therapy is to be banned because of “health risks for LGBTQ young people such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior,” wouldn’t that call non-traditional sexual orientations themselves into question? These very pathologies seem to be over-represented in at least some LGBTQ populations, which supporters of this bill pretend to protect – apart from any conversion therapy. One report, for example, asserts that as many as 40 percent of transgender adults report having attempted suicide.
Finally, even if we assume that harm to some individuals has in fact occurred, is that sufficient reason for banning an entire practice? There are many medical procedures that are considered risky because of high rates of harm to the patient.
And what exactly is the supposed danger of these procedures? How many cases are there of harm to the patient? Where are the numbers? Where is the research? Of course, there isn’t any.
Politicized science doesn’t have any need for research.