In the News:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed into law on August 19, 2013 legislation that bars licensed therapists from trying to turn gay teenagers straight. The New Jersey Senate Bill 1172 seeks to prohibit “any counseling to minors seeking to diminish or eliminate unwanted same-sex sexual attractions, behavior or identity.” I would like to talk about this from a counselor’s viewpoint. Most of the information concerning this controversy comes from a political viewpoint and I think the troubled teen is overlooked in the process.
I have counseled many a perplexed teen asking questions about their sexual orientation. They need someone to listen to them in a safe and encouraging environment. Where else can they have this conversation? Most don’t discuss it with their parents. Many of their peers give them advise but they themselves are in the throes of coming up with their own identity. Now the governor of New Jersey has legislated that you can’t talk about this to a licensed counselor. How does that make sense?
Let me give you a common scenario that I have experienced in the counseling office. A young teen tells me that he thinks he is gay but he’s not sure. I ask why he thinks he is gay and he tells me about an incident that happened a few years ago when he was molested by an older boy. He enjoyed parts of it and therefore decided he must be gay. Also he is shy and although he likes girls, no girls are interested in him. Under this new law my hands would be tied and I would have to say we can’t talk about that issue. Again, does that make any sense? I say, keep the politics out of the counseling room and don’t try to legislate what goes on in between a professional counselor and a questioning teen.
This law is an astounding overreach by the government into the realm of counseling and should be nullified. I agree with the Liberty Counsel that says, “This law is politically motivated to interfere with counselors and clients.” I also stand with the American Association of Christian Counselors. They are committed to doing everything possible to advocate for Christian principles and religious freedom in counseling, as well as to protect the rights of clients.