Ninth Circuit Upholds California’s Ban on ‘Gay Conversion’ Therapy for Minors


On Thursday, a federal appeals court upheld a California law that bans the practice of “gay conversion” therapy for minors, holding the law does not violate the free speech rights of either counselors or parents.

The first-of-its-kind law bars licensed health professionals from “sexual-orientation change efforts” to patients under 18. It states that being gay “is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency or shortcoming” and cites findings and opinions by an American Psychological Association task force urging parents to avoid practitioners who use such a practice because it can pose “critical health risks,” including depression and suicidal thoughts.

Shortly after the law was passed, two separate groups brought legal challenges to the law, arguing it was unconstitutional. One challenge was brought by a group of therapists who support the practice and argued the ban violated their First Amendment rights to discuss gay conversion with young patients. In another lawsuit, a group of families argued the law violated their First Amendment religious freedoms to seek therapy that will “convert” their children from homosexuality.

A three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously held the law did not violate free speech rights of practitioners or minor patients and did not violate parents’ fundamental rights to chose appropriate care for their children.

The Christian conservative litigation group Liberty Counsel brought the lawsuit on behalf of the therapists and families and announced via statement that it will appeal and ask the Ninth Circuit to reconsider its opinion with the entire 11-judge panel.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Follow Jessica Mason Pieklo on Twitter: @hegemommy

To schedule an interview with Jessica Mason Pieklo please contact Communications Director Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • fiona64

    One challenge was brought by a group of therapists who support the
    practice and argued the ban violated their First Amendment rights to
    discuss gay conversion with young patients.

    News flash: your right to free speech is in no way abrogated by denying you a captive audience.

    Kudos to the 9th Circuit.

    • HeilMary1

      “captive audience”
      Not unlike women forced to listen to scary lies at CPCs.

  • cmarie

    I’m very conservative and I can’t imagine why anyone would oppose this ban. It’s one thing in the very unlikely case that an adult wants to participate in “gay therapy” for him or herself. But for anyone under 18 this kind of treatment is child abuse. It’s also worth considering that kids under 18, being forced to participate probably make up the vast majority of all patients who have to under go this treatment, which is why therapists who practice it want the ban eliminated. They don’t want to lose 95% of their patients.

    • Freethinker01

      Cmarie–Would you consider it child abuse to force a 16-year-old girl into counseling if she has an unwanted sexual attraction to little boys?
      Like homosexuality, that’s the way she’s hardwired. That’s her natural self…even if it does conflict with current social norms. Why allow one to seek counseling but not the other?

      • colleen2

        The difference is that when you rape children you hurt them. You hurt them physically, emotionally and spiritually. I think you will find more sympathy for your support of pedophilia as a natural expression of human sexuality amongst the religious right and the Republican/teaparty/Libertarian cesspool.

  • Freethinker01

    What’s the difference between a 16-year-old boy voluntarily seeking counseling for his unwanted homosexual feelings, and a 16-year-old boy voluntarily seeking counseling for his unwanted sexual attraction to prepubescent girls?
    Clearly, the boy was “born that way” in either condition, so why should we attempt to change his behavior in either case?
    Is counseling only acceptable when the behavior is socially unacceptable?
    The Court got it wrong in its full court press to affirm all things homophilic. Not surprising, but wrong nonetheless.