Editorials

Conversion Therapy Ban in Allegheny County

Is it the place of our legislators to determine, by force of law, which categories of counseling are made available to the public?  The question alone suggests an overt violation of free speech but it also lurches into freedom of choice and, where minors are concerned, will be erosive to parental rights.

The Allegheny County Council is considering such a countywide statue, ordinance No-11000-19, which would ban counseling therapy known as “conversion therapy”.  In its essence “conversion therapy” is consultation offered by mental health professionals to clients voluntarily seeking help to address unwanted same-sex attraction or confusion associated with gender dysphoria.  The proposed ordinance prohibits “practices by mental health professionals that involve any attempt(s) to convert an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression…”  Therefore, should the personal goal of the client be to eliminate same-sex attraction, this line of counsel would be illegal.  In other words, this ordinance limits the speech of counselors and infringes on the freedom of the client to set his or her own treatment goals.

It is widely understood, agreed upon and enforceable by law is that mental health practices or therapies which are abusive or aversive in any way to the the client are both intolerable and illegal.  Our laws already render illegal and unethical physically abusive practices but, in truth, there is no evidence that this sort of abuse is occurring in Pennsylvania.

There are individuals who are living happy, fulfilling lives in same-sex relationships but there are also individuals who would like to pursue a different path. (To see these stories, visit www.ChangedMovement.com or #Oncegay). Is it appropriate for our County Council Members to determine whether or not help is available?

Contact your Allegheny County Council Members and voice your opinion on this legislation.