The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Ally community has another reason to celebrate during this year’s National Coming Out Week.
California is the first state to create a law that will ban conversion therapy, or “gay cure” therapy, for minors. The therapy is intended to change a person’s sexual orientation and the law will go into effect January 2013.
“This is definitely a milestone for the LGBTA community,” said Henry White, member and volunteer for the LGBTA resource center.
The new law coincides with National Coming Out Week, which began Monday and celebrates individuals identifying themselves publicly as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
The Penn State LGBTA students began celebrating National Coming Out Week by bringing awareness to the celebration to the Penn State campus, but they are generally happy with California’s new law.
White (junior-political science and communications) said people are allowed to have their own opinions on conversion therapy, but he said he disagrees with it.
Vice President of Delta Lambda Phi Joe Charette said he thinks the new law is great news. Delta Lambda Phi is the fraternity for gay, bisexual and progressive men at Penn State.
Charette (junior- psychology) said he agrees that people will have their own opinions about the conversion therapy, but it is a step forward for the LGBTA community.
Counselor Tammy Woodring Malinich, therapist Andrew Gerald McKinnon and therapist Nancy E Campbell — who all have counseling practices in State College — said they do not practice conversion therapy. They denied comment on the matter.
The controversial law has brought opposition and lawsuits against officials in California, claiming the law will infringe on their civil rights. The Pacific Justice Institute, a Christian legal group in California, filed a lawsuit on behalf of members who are practicing psychiatrists and therapist.
Aaron Bitzer, a college student from Culver City, Calif., is a plaintiff in the lawsuit who told the Associated Press he benefited from the conversion therapy.
“Why would anyone put their kids through a practice that makes them feel insecure,” said Maureen Dunn, a member of the Penn State LGBTA Student Resource center.
Dunn (junior-crime, law and justice) said because the therapy has worked on people, “doesn’t mean it’s an ethical practice.”
Dunn said it is great California has taken the initiative regarding such types of therapy and would like to see it happen in more states.
California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law in September. The law states that no mental health provider should be providing minors with the therapy to change their sexual orientation or romantic attraction to the same sex, according to the law.
The law references the American Psychological Association, which says conversion therapy has severe health risks and can lead to substance abuse, loss of family members and friends, suicide and many other health risks..
The Associated Press contributed to this report.