Editorial: Conversion therapy ban violates First Amendment

Gov. Brian Sandoval signed into law this past week a legislatively passed bill that makes it illegal for any psychotherapist in Nevada to provide conversion therapy to anyone under the age of 18.

Senate Bill 201 defines conversion therapy as “any practice or treatment that seeks to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a person.”

It states this therapy is barred “regardless of the willingness of the person or his or her parent or legal guardian to authorize such therapy.” The bill description justifies this usurpation of individual and parental rights by claiming the practice is ineffective and potentially harmful.

In a statement released to the press, the bill’s chief sponsor, state Sen. David Parks of Las Vegas, said, “Banning conversion therapy makes Nevada a safer place for children who are at a higher risk of anxiety, depression, substance abuse and even suicide.”

But what is therapy? These days it is not torture, electric shock or some emersion in aversion straight out of “A Clockwork Orange.” It is talk. You know, free speech.

Aversion therapy in “A Clockwork Organe”

But SB201 dictates that some speech is permissible while other speech is not. While it prohibits speech that might prompt a person to reconsider his or her sexual orientation or gender identity, it specifically allows support or confirmation for “a person undergoing gender transition …” or provides “acceptance, support and understanding of a person or facilitates a person’s ability to cope, social support and identity exploration and development …”

It is a one-way street. The courts have repeatedly ruled that laws that limit speech based solely on its content violates the First Amendment.

Presumably, if a professional merely talked to a minor about the results of years of research and studies and that talk resulted in a change of attitude about sexual orientation, that would be illegal under the law. Facts matter for naught.

Drs. Paul McHugh and Lawrence Mayer of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have written that 80 to 95 percent of all children who express feelings of gender dysphoria abandon those feelings upon maturity and that more than 80 percent of youth claiming to experience same-sex attractions in late childhood and adolescence identified themselves as exclusively heterosexual upon becoming adults. Would telling a minor to let nature take its course violate the law?

A late amendment to the law makes a ham-fisted attempt to protect religious counselors from being punished under the law, but it is so convoluted as to be indecipherable and totally useless. It tries to tiptoe around the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, but instead does a Mexican hat dance.

It states “there is nothing in this bill that regulates or prohibits licensed health care professionals from engaging in expressive speech or religious counseling with such children if the licensed health care professionals: (1) are acting in their pastoral or religious capacity as members of the clergy or as religious counselors; and (2) do not hold themselves out as operating pursuant to their professional licenses when so acting in their pastoral or religious capacity.”

They have to take off their professional licensee hat and put on their clerical hat.

A group called the Alliance Defending Freedom points out the Catch-22 in that.

Nevada law states that it is “unlawful for any person to engage in the practice of marriage and family therapy … unless the person is licensed …” the Alliance points out. “Telling licensed professionals that they can only engage in certain speech and activities if they do so outside of the umbrella of their license exposes them to ethical and legal liability. It places them between a rock and a hard place. If they do the counseling under their license, they violate SB 201; if they do it outside the scope of their license, they violate” another law.

What a tangled web lawmakers weave when they decide they know what’s best for young people, and they and their parents don’t.

The Latin phrase is in loco parentis, meaning “in the place of a parent.” The emphasis should be on the loco. Someone should challenge the constitutionality of this law in court.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Advertisements

Here there be gods

Apparently when one is handed the power to write laws, one immediately becomes omniscient and omnipotent — knowing how everything should be done and how everyone should behave and do their jobs, even physicians.

On Friday the Senate Committee on Commerce, Labor and Energy approved Assembly Bill 105, which requires doctors and other health care providers to undergo ongoing suicide prevention training. Like doctors don’t go through enough training already and doctors have no incentive to keep their patients alive and paying the bills.

State law already requires a litany of training requirements, including how to spot terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, but it would change the law from encouraging ongoing suicide prevention and awareness training to requiring it.

 Meanwhile, the Assembly is expected to vote next week on a bill that would prohibit so-called “conversion therapy” for minors, even with their consent and the consent of their parents. Such therapy is intended to alter the minor’s sexual orientation — generally, we presume, from homosexual to heterosexual. Senate Bill 201 has already passed the state Senate on a vote of 15-5 despite concerns to any conversation with a young person about sexual orientation might to construed as therapy under the law.
While the law specifically prohibits treatment that “seeks to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a person,” despite their actual chromosome composition, it specifically allows support or confirmation for “a person undergoing gender transition …” or provides “acceptance, support and understanding of a person or facilitates a person’s ability to cope, social support and identity exploration and development …”
Our lawmakers know what’s best for you, no matter what you might think. For their next trick: Laying on of hands.

Nevada lawmakers pushing bill to make youth sexual orientation immutable

In olden days, a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking.

Lawmakers have a tendency to want to play God. They know best, and, by damn, you’ll behave the way they demand you behave or pay the consequences.

That’s why the Nevada state Senate has already passed a bill by a vote of 15-5 that would prohibit so-called “conversion therapy” for minors, even with their consent and the consent of their parents. Such therapy is intended to alter the minor’s sexual orientation — generally, we presume, from homosexual to heterosexual.

On Wednesday the Assembly Health and Human Services heard arguments on Senate Bill 201 in which some argued the broad language barring anyone who provides counseling services from providing “any conversion therapy,” which could be construed as banning any conversation with a youth confused about sexual orientation.

The proponents of the bill, and even some Republicans who say the language is too broad, according to the Las Vegas newspaper account, call conversion therapy reprehensible and say it can result in anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicide.

Somehow the conclusion that sexual orientation is immutable seems analogous to passing laws saying one may not undergo conversion from one religion to another. Aren’t there some countries with just such laws?

But apparently when it comes to gender all is mutable. You see, in their infinite wisdom, our august lawmakers have already passed Assembly Bill 99, which demands all children in institutions such as “juvenile detention facilities, foster homes, child care facilities and mental health facilities” be treated according to the child’s gender identity despite the child’s actual biological gender. Juvenile detention facilities? It also requires all those adults working with such children to be indoctrinated into handling “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning children.”

AB99 passed the Assembly 26-15 and the Senate 18-2 and was signed by the governor.

So, SB201 would appear to be on a clear path to passage.

But now, God knows,
Anything goes.