Regulating Sexual Orientation Change Efforts: The California Approach, Its Limitations, and Potential Alternatives
54 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2013 Last revised: 15 Jun 2021
Date Written: February 12, 2014
California recently became the first state to ban licensed psychotherapists from engaging in “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE) — also known as conversion therapy — with a minor. This Note argues that, despite the legislation’s laudable goals, California’s regulatory strategy may not necessarily offer the best model for other states seeking to limit SOCE. California’s approach is troubling for several reasons: it reinforces an essentializing conception of sexual identity; it is particularly amenable to First Amendment challenges; and it has the potential to generate political backlash by feeding into historically pervasive anti-gay narratives. I suggest that an alternative approach would curtail SOCE therapists’ influence using existing state laws that forbid medical professionals from making deceptive promises about the effectiveness of their services. As SOCE is widely considered to be ineffective, challenging SOCE practitioners using state anti-deception law could potentially achieve results similar to those of a full SOCE ban.
Keywords: LGBT, California, SB 1172, sexuality, First Amendment, Ferguson v. Jonah, SOCE, Conversion Therapy, Pickup v. Brown
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