California Congresswoman Takes On 'Ex-Gay' Therapy

Rep. Jackie Speier introduced the Stop Harming Our Kids (SHOK) resolution Wednesday.

BY Julie Bolcer

November 28 2012 3:00 PM ET

Congresswoman Jackie Speier

Denouncing so-called ex-gay therapy as “quackery,” Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California introduced a resolution Wednesday intended to help protect young people from the practice.

The Stop Harming Our Kids (SHOK) resolution is the first federal action directed at the controversial and discredited attempts to “change” sexual orientation, according to Speier’s office. Co-sponsors of the resolution include Congressmen Ted Deutch of Florida and David Cicilline of Rhode Island.

According to a news release, “The SHOK resolution encourages each state to take steps to protect minors from efforts that promote or promise to change sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, based on the premise that homosexuality is a mental illness or developmental disorder that can or should be cured.”

Speier announced the resolution at a morning news conference in Washington, D.C. Attendees included advocates against the therapy, social workers, and “ex-gay” therapy survivors including Sheldon Bruck and Jerry Spencer, a plaintiff in a new lawsuit against a New Jersey organization that offered the therapy.

The Democrat from San Francisco urged all states to adopt legislation similar to that signed recently by California Governor Jerry Brown. The law, which takes effect this January, prohibits state-licensed therapists from conducting “ex-gay” therapy with minors.

In addition to the SHOK resolution, Speier said she is investigating whether taxpayer funds have been used to reimburse therapists for the practice through the federal Medicare and TRICARE healthcare programs. The congresswoman sent letters to the programs Wednesday.

“In my cursory investigation, I have found two additional instances of so-called mental health professionals that advertise these services and appear to be eligible for federal dollars,” she said. “This morning, I sent letters of inquiry to Medicaid and TRICARE to determine if these instances reflect systemic weaknesses that allow federal taxpayer dollars to go to harmful, illegitimate medical services.”  

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