Thursday, April 18, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Saturday, January 30, 2016
Reason: Conversion Therapy Is Bad, but Banning It Is a Form of Unacceptable Censorship
By Selected News Articles @ 12:53 PM :: 5606 Views :: Family, First Amendment

Conversion Therapy Is Bad, but Banning It Is a Form of Unacceptable Censorship

We don’t need lawmakers deciding what therapies should be supported or legal.

by Scott Shackford, Reason,  Jan. 29, 2016

Hawaii is the latest state to consider bans on conversion therapy for youths under legal age. "Conversion therapy" is the term for trying to turn gay people straight or to convince transgender people to embrace their biological sex. It is a form of therapy that is now widely discredited by experts as ineffective and immoral.

Legislation has been introduce in Hawaii to mostly ban the practice, and really to ban certain people from talking about it. The bill has two parts. The first part of the bill forbids teachers from engaging in efforts to change the sexual orientation of students under the age of 18. While it's under the purview of the state to determine what topics of discussion are appropriate between public teachers and students on the job, the law does not appear to differentiate between public and private school teachers. It also doesn't seem to differentiate between a teacher doing his or her work as an educator or a teacher engaged in private matters on his or her own time.

The second part of the law would forbid licensed counselors, psychologists, and the like from offering conversion therapy to minors or advertising conversion therapy to minors. Doing so will result in discipline from licensing authorities and would be considered "an unfair or deceptive act or practice" by Hawaiian law.

Laws like this go above and beyond regulating and forbidding practices that are scientifically certain to be harmful (like prescribing inappropriate and dangerous medicine) to actually censoring and forbidding types of discussion. These kinds of laws should be resisted not because one supports trying to convert gay people or transgender people, but because it's an intrusion of artificial government certainty into a field of treatment that is anything but.

Under the logic of these laws, back when the government and psychiatrists thought homosexuals were mentally ill predators (which wasn't, frankly, all that long ago), it would have been perfectly acceptable and logical for the government to pass laws that did the exact reverse: to forbid therapists and counselors from encouraging youths from accepting and acting on their homosexuality. Indeed, as late as 2013, conservative state legislators were trying to pass laws that did the exact opposite and forbid teachers and educators from even discussing homosexuality with some school students.

The same type of people who object to "don't say gay" laws embrace and champion anti-conversion therapy laws. But the principle that drives the two laws is exactly the same. Each side wants to use the government to forcibly censor discussions that they believe may be harmful to the young listener. The law proposed in Hawaii happens to have a majority of the therapeutic field on its side. Now. Fifty years ago would have been a different situation.

The lesson people should be learning from the history of anti-gay bigotry in America's government is to try to keep lawmakers and officials from controlling the cultural discussion. If it is acceptable and moral for a Hawaiian legislator to use the power of government to stop certain discussions about sexual orientation from happening because she thinks they are harmful, then it's just as acceptable and moral for a Tennessee legislator to use the power of government to censor in a completely different direction for the same reasons.

If conversion therapy is ineffective (and it is) it will fall out of practice on its own (which it is). The law does nothing to prevent non-licensed religion-based conversion efforts, and ultimately that's where this is all going to end up, to the extent that it still continues. The law can't stop non-licensed conversion therapy because lawmakers know that would be a First Amendment violation. But if conversion therapy is "harmful," it's still harmful when attempted by non-licensed therapists, right? That's the sign that this kind of law is about regulating speech, not treatment.



TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Moms for Liberty

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

School Choice in Hawaii

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii