Don’t Even Think About It


“Don’t even think about it.” Perhaps those of you who are parents have said this to your children on occasion. Well, now the State of California is sending that same message to you, your children, and any of your children’s doctors or therapists.

To what am I referring? Earlier this month, California Governor Jerry Brown, a Catholic, signed into law SB 1172, a bill designed to prohibit individuals under the age of eighteen from receiving treatment for unwanted homosexual attractions.

The legislation is sweeping in effect. What if an individual under the age of eighteen wants to be rid of homosexual urges? Too bad. What if a minor’s parents and a doctor or licensed therapist propose to the minor a plan of treatment designed to reverse same-sex attraction? The State of California says, “Stop right there.” There are no exceptions, not even for minors who suffer sexual abuse at an early age and then become conflicted with same-sex attraction in adolescence or puberty.

The bill applies to “mental health providers,” a broad term that includes not only psychiatrists and psychologists, but also social workers and marriage and family therapists. Violations will result in penalties imposed by the relevant state licensing agency—including potential licensure revocation.

The Golden State’s latest legislation is part of a recent surge in government efforts to regulate professional conduct in several areas previously untouched by state intrusion. For example, in the past couple of years a few states have made aggressive attempts to force private pharmacists, against their consciences, to provide contraceptives and abortifacients. Some politicians have argued that medical professionals unwilling to assist in abortions should stay out of certain areas of health care altogether. Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakley—another Catholic politician—infamously said that Roman Catholics “probably shouldn’t work in the emergency room.”

Yet SB 1172 represents a new twist in the emerging trend. Because it touches on the treatment of minors, this law intrudes, not only upon the professional judgment of mental health care providers, but also upon the parent-child relationship. And, for those who crafted the legislation, this was not an afterthought. As the bill’s author, State Senator Ted Lieu, explained, “The attack on parental rights is exactly the whole point of the bill . . .” The aim is to keep parents from parenting, at least when it comes to their child’s sexual identity.

Popular culture already bombards the youth of America with shows, movies, and music that present homosexual attraction and activity as normal, healthy, or even heroic. Given the pervasive influence of such entertainment, it should come as no surprise that some teenagers become interested in homosexual activity.

Thoughts lead to action. Kids will make mistakes. Centuries of experience testify to the fact that adolescence can be a trying time. Moreover, new forms of entertainment and rapid communication make it increasingly difficult for parents to compete with and respond to the messages their children receive daily from the surrounding culture. Sometimes parents need the help of trusted professionals to redress the harm done to their children. SB 1172 forecloses this option.

The categorical and impersonal decision of a group of lawmakers is no substitute for parental guidance and the advice of mental health professionals. Minors struggling with sexual identity should have options other than simple surrender to homosexual urges. Unfortunately for Californians, their government disagrees. To any family that attempts to channel such urges toward more normative sexual behavior, SB 1172 sends a clear message: don’t even think about it.

Image: California state flag

You May Also Enjoy:

The School of the Martyrs Christmas has a strange way of reminding us of our heroes. When we’re young, it’s an animated character on the screen that we admire; and when we’re older, our heroes take on life-size proportions. It’s no coincidence that we celebrate three martyrs’ feasts during the Christmas Octave, including the Commemoration of St. Thomas Becket today. The martyrs are our Christian heroes; and like any hero, they inspire us to want to be like them. The...
Welcome Nutrition: It’s Totally Adipsous A friend from another country once came up to me and ceremoniously handed me a folded-up piece of paper. Bemused and somewhat trepidatious, I opened it to find a five-verse hymn that he had translated from his native language, which began: Welcome nutrition in which immeasurable Maker of heaven and earth is enclosed/confined Welcome beverage totally adipsous mind panting after Well, I thought, so this is what it feels like to be nonplussed. ...
Not Another Summer Blockbuster As a child of the nineties, there is little that tops the nostalgia invoked by a cheezy, mindless, summer action flick—especially when it strains all credulity. Enter Independence Day. Thankfully, this story isn’t going away anytime soon, like any cornball classic. But, beyond the stereotypical characters, the absurd lines, and the inexplicable coincidences, Independence Day cements its place in my heart for having one of the most absurd resol...
#UnbornLivesMatter I was not selling loose cigarettes. I did not reach for Wilson’s gun. I did not blaspheme your God. If I had been killed for any of these things—if I had suffered disproportionately for crime, aggression, or imprudence—I may have had our nation’s pity. But as I am, I can do nothing so public to earn American attention. If I was identified with an ethnicity victimized by prejudice and injustice, I might have had your sympathy. But I am not so s...