Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a therapy ban that would not only make it illegal to counsel children about unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion, but also punish parents who allow it by taking custody of their children.
Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, told CBN News that the bill “categorizes the treatment itself as child abuse.”
It appears that Massachusetts is the first state to consider defining such therapy as abusive and allow for the option of taking away parental custody.
“This is a bill that would allow the state to take, for example, your daughter, and make her someone else’s son,” Beckwith said.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, a powerful LGBTQ advocacy organization, 15 states and Washington, DC have already passed therapy bans for youth. Beckwith says Massachusetts could be the first to add the abuse definition. Lawmakers in Maine and Colorado are also considering therapy bans for youth right now. LGBTQ advocates have argued for years that therapy that allows youth to discuss their concerns about unwanted same-sex desires or gender identity issues is harmful.
Massachusetts lawmakers first introduced a youth therapy ban bill in 2013. Beckwith says proponents appear to have an “aggressive timeline” right now, because last year lawmakers couldn’t agree on the abuse provision and delayed a vote until the end of the session in June.
This year, according to Beckwith, they’re already taking action. Lawmakers held a hearing on March 5 to consider testimony from those the measure would impact.
Parental custody is already an issue in transgender cases involving children across the country. Recently, Ohio officials stripped parental rights from a couple that opposed medical treatment for their teenage daughter who wanted to become a boy. In Texas, a divorced father and mother are fighting over medical treatment for their 6-year-old son. The mother says he identifies as a girl and wants to pursue medical treatments to help him change. The father says the boy identifies as a boy and opposes the treatments.
The Massachusetts Senate’s bill S.70, titled “Relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity,” was reported favorably by committee Monday, March 11, and referred to the committee on Senate Rules.
Hearings on Massachusetts House Bill H.110, “An Act banning conversion therapy,” was extended for additional testimony. A new date for the extended hearings has not been set. The House version of the bill would “prohibit practices by health care providers that attempt to change sexual orientation or gender identity. Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities.”