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Opinion

August 23, 2013

N.Y. should ban harmful therapy

On Monday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill that would outlaw in his state what’s known as “conversion therapy” for those younger than 18.

What the legislation does is prevent licensed therapists from attempting to turn gay minors into straight minors.

For someone who has indicated that he has designs on becoming the Republican Party’s presidential candidate in 2016, what Christie did was an act of political courage … and apparently of personal conscience.

“Government should tread carefully into this area,” Christie said in the signing note that accompanied his signature, “and I do so here reluctantly. However, I also believe that on the issues of medical treatment for children we must look to experts in the field to determine the relative risks and rewards,”

Among those risks Christie mentioned was depression and suicide.

“I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate.”

So, should New York state follow New Jersey’s lead and join California as the only states to enact this law?

Of course, it should.

Legislation proposed earlier this year by state Sens. Brad Hoylman and Michael Gianaris and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick would do just that, but it has been languishing in the Legislature.

“Conversion therapy is among the worst frauds in history and has been discredited by the American Psychological Association and other ... leading mental health organizations,” Hoylman, who is gay, told the New York Daily News.

The fact is, being gay isn’t a disease that needs to be cured.

Or, for that matter, can be “cured.”

There’s little evidence that sexual orientation change efforts (known as SOCE) work.

In 2007, an American Psychological Association task force did a study of the limited data available. It didn’t have enough evidence to say conclusively that conversion therapy was harmful, but it did point out that the “results of scientifically valid research indicate that it is unlikely that individuals will be able to reduce same-sex attractions or increase other-sex sexual attractions through SOCE.”

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