SCOTUS declines to hear case against California's conversion therapy ban

Yesterday, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case contesting California's ban on the use of so-called "conversion therapy" with minors, also known by the misnomers "reparative therapy," "ex-gay therapy," or "sexual orientation change efforts." As a result, California's ban on the use of conversion therapy to "change" or "correct" the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBT youth, a ruling that was issued last summer, will not be challenged or overturned.

Liberty Counsel, a "legal ministry" and notoriously anti-LGBT group, affiliated with Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn California's ruling. The Liberty Counsel also tried with no success to hinder the 2003 Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, which was a landmark decision that decriminalized LGBT relationships in 14 states. 

Although the Supreme Court did not say why their current case was rejected (as is custom), the appeals court in California said the state had an interest in banning professional treatment it considered harmful for youth.

Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and Liberty University dean, put out a statement condemning the Supreme Court's decision, saying that the children he represents "developed these unwanted attractions because of abuse of a pedophile." He goes on to say that the children have been victimized "by legislators and judges who have essentially barged into their private therapy rooms and told them that they must pursue their unwanted and dangerous same-sex sexual attractions and behavior.” Staver has made additional outlandish anti-LGBT statements, as documented by GLAAD's Commentator Accountability Project (CAP).

Even though Staver claims that conversion therapy has helped youth succeed emotionally, socially, and academically, both science and survivors' personal narratives provide evidence to the contrary.

Despite evidence of conversion therapy's dangers for youth and the stance of major medical and mental health associations against its use, California and New Jersey are currently the only two states that have successfully passed a ban on conversion therapy with minors. GLAAD's very own intern Jacob Rudolph actually testified before the New Jersey senate in 2013 to ban conversion therapy in the state and again in New York earlier this year.

According to the American Psychological Association, conversion therapy is harmful because children may see their inability to successfully change their orientation or gender identity as a moral failure, putting them at a huge risk for severe depression, alienation from their families, substance abuse, and even suicide.

Even though children in California will remain protected from conversion therapy, children across the country are not as safe. The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), an organization that has been dedicated to expanding the civil and human rights of LGBT people for over three decades, launched a national campaign last week called #BornPerfect, aiming to end conversion therapy for youth in the next five years by passing laws across the country to protect LGBT youth, fighting in courtrooms to ensure their safety, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by these dangerous practices.

Head over to the #BornPerfect campaign's site to check out the resources, learn more about the campaign and its legal progress, and connect with conversion therapy survivors.

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