Gainesville, Florida – January 27, 2014 – The American College of Pediatricians urges legislators to refrain from legislating psychotherapy. Similar to laws recently enacted in California and New Jersey, a bill is being considered in Virginia to ban professional therapists from practicing conversion therapy with same-sex attracted adolescents who, or whose parents, request such therapy. Although several medical groups have moved to discourage this practice, there is no firm basis for their position. The scientific literature, however, is clear: Same-sex attractions are more fluid than fixed, especially for adolescents ─ many of whom can and do change. The outcomes for the treatment of unwanted attractions are no different than outcomes for other difficult psychological problems. There is not a single randomized controlled study demonstrating universal failure and/or harm from Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE). However, there is a body of literature demonstrating a variety of positive outcomes from SOCE.
Barring change therapy or SOCE will threaten the health and well-being of children wanting therapy. With no other options available, same-sex attracted young people will believe that they have no choice but to engage in homosexual behaviors. These behaviors place them at risk for grave physical and psychological harm. Adolescents have a right to explore sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) with full informed consent and under the care of mental health experts in the field, just as they do for other concerns.
See also NARTH commentary on the California Bill SB 1172