What Do Restrictions on “Conversion Therapy” Actually Say?

Washington State Capitol Building

State legislators around the country have increasingly moved to protect youth from a set of dangerous and widely discredited practices known as “conversion therapy,” “reparative therapy,” or “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCEs). SOCEs aim to eliminate or reduce same-sex attractions; the purpose, in effect, is to “treat” or “cure” homosexuality (and bisexuality), even though same-sex orientation is not an illness.

Media coverage of legislation restricting SOCEs typically has not delved into the specifics of the laws and proposals, likely because many reporters (not to mention many readers) don’t have the patience to weed through the often-dense language of legislation. But advocates for LGBT youth and other opponents of SOCE may benefit from learning more about the details than the mainstream press coverage makes possible.

This post serves a resource and reference to fill some of the gaps in the mainstream reporting. It sets out, in an accessible format, excerpts of the key language from laws in New Jersey and California (which have already approved SOCE restrictions) as well as from bills proposed in Maryland and Washington State. You’ll also find links to the full text of the legislation, along with a brief summary of each bill or law’s history. (A future post will discuss other states’ proposals.) At the end, I’ve posted links to commentary and resources from around the web. Click here or on ‘Read More’ to view the full post.

Federal Appeals Court Upholds California Ban on “Conversion” Therapy For Minors


A three-judge panel of a federal appeals court has unanimously upheld California’s pioneering law that prohibits state-licensed mental health professionals from engaging in “sexual orientation change efforts” (“SOCE,” a/k/a “conversion” therapy) with minors.

The court ruled that the law does not violate the rights of therapists who wish to engage in SOCE, the rights of minor patients, or the rights of parents who wish to subject their children to this discredited practice. The court also rejected arguments that the law is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.

The ruling will allow the law finally to go into effect, assuming the Supreme Court does not get involved. (I think it’s unlikely that the Supreme Court would take a case like this at this time, but you never know.) Earlier rulings had placed California’s law on hold while the court decided its constitutionality.

Video: California Senator Ted Lieu Talks About Bans on “Conversion” Therapy for Minors

California State Senator Ted Lieu, Portrait

In this Huff Post Live video, California State Senator Ted Lieu talks about laws banning licensed professionals from engaging in “ex-gay” or “conversion” therapy with minors.

California became the first state to approve such a ban when Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill authored by Senator Lieu. A federal appeals court, however, has put the law on hold while the court considers its constitutionality.