Please help us now to stop the State of Utah from passing a rule that would ban legitimate and necessary talk therapy when therapists are counseling with children under 18 who are questioning their gender or sexual orientation.
Sign the attached petition and ask the Licensing Boards to Protect All Teens by rejecting the language proposed by the Board of Psychologists and find new language that protects client self-determination of all teens and their families. https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/ask-dopl-to-protect-all-utah-teens
The proposed rule is based on the premise that ordinary ethical conversational therapy that is open to change in sexual attractions or gender perceptions is harmful to minors.
In the 2019 legislative session there was a bill to ban conversion therapy. The question was, what is the definition of conversion therapy? This legislation stated,” Conversion Therapy means:
This proposed language that would have infringe on the rights of parents, children and professional therapists by allowing only gay affirming help with same sex attraction or affirming the gender identity being questioned. A therapist could have validated a homosexual lifestyle but could not suggest other options. Parents looking for help for their questioning child would not have any place to go for help.
THIS BILL DID NOT PASS THE LEGISLATURE. BUT THE UTAH MENTAL HEALTH LICENSING BOARD HAS PROPOSED A CHANGE TO THEIR RULE THAT WOULD BAN CONVERSION THERAPY, INCLUDING TALK THERAPY. THIS RULE CHANGE WILL HAVE THE SAME END EFFECT AS THE LAW THAT WAS REJECTED BY THE LEGISLATURE. THIS IS JUST ANOTHER WAY TO GET AROUND THE LEGISLATURE AND BAN TALK THERAPY FOR QUESTIONING LGBTQ YOUTH.
If this proposed rule is adopted it will have the same effect as the law they tried to pass in the legislature and would violate:
Children struggling with their gender identity or sexuality need to be able to talk to a professional counselor who will give them honest answers to their questions and parents need to be able to trust that these therapists will do what is best for their child and not be controlled by unreasonable and biased laws that violate their constitutional rights.
Your help is needed ASAP. Please do the following 3 things:
From David Pruden:
1. The proposed rule is unnecessarily vague and open to administrative abuse.
For example, what constitutes therapy that is “neutral with respect to the sexual orientation . . . of the individual.” (The question is not whether the therapist is neutral; it is whether the therapy—the “methods, practices, procedures, or techniques”—is neutral.) What constitutes “neutral” therapy most probably will depend on the “worldview” regarding same-sex attractions or sexual orientation held by whoever decides what the term “neutral” means.
Imagine that a psychologist is working with an adolescent who is experiencing gender confusion and is thinking seriously about whether he wants to undergo gender “change” procedures. In the course of their discussions, the psychologist should address with the minor client (and his parents) the emotional and psychological risks and hazards of “gender change” procedures. Further, the psychologist should advise the minor client and his parents that they will need to discuss the medical and physical risks of chemical, hormonal, or surgical “gender change” procedures—which are many and serious, and often with permanent and irreversible effects—with a competent physician. However, such discussions in a therapeutic context may well be regarded as having the “goal” of changing the minor client’s “gender identity.”
Assume a situation in which a 10-year-old male tells his parents that he thinks he really should have been born as a girl, and wants to change his gender. The parents then take the boy to a therapist (who does not take a transgender/gender-change-affirming approach) to help him address his feelings and confusion. Under the proposed rule, addressing the feelings, emotions, or expressions related to the boy’s perceived gender “identity” would put the therapist at risk, because it might result in a change in those feelings, and thus potentially be regarded as having the “goal” of changing the boy’s “gender identity.” To remain safe, the therapist could only “reduce” the young boy’s “internalized stigma,” provide “acceptance [and] support,” facilitate his “active coping, social support, and identity exploration and development,” and assist him in “undergoing gender transition.”
2. The proposed rule threatens a therapist with loss of their license (and their livelihood) if they violate the “sexual orientation change efforts or gender identity change efforts” provision if they are working with any number of common adolescent sexual concerns.
The likely practical result of the proposed rule would be to:
3. The proposed rule is based on the premise that ordinary ethical conversational therapy that is open to change in sexual attractions or gender perceptions is harmful to minors because it does not work and cannot work.
The proposed rule is grounded in a misunderstanding or mischaracterization of what actually does—and does not—happen in counseling by an ethical, competent therapist who uses an approach that is open to change. Ethical and competent therapy does not involve physically aversive techniques (such as electroshocking genitals or inducing vomiting). No licensed therapist in Utah has used such techniques for decades, as the proposed rule’s supporters concede. Nor does ethical and competent therapy involve verbally abusive techniques such as bullying, intimidation, shaming, or humiliation. Contrary to the impression the activists who support the proposed rule want people to have, the proposed rule is not directed either exclusively or even primarily at physically aversive practices.
4. The proposed rule, in its operation, would not be neutral toward religion.
It is based on an implicit hostility to the religious principles of clients (of all religious backgrounds) who seek therapy to address unwanted same-sex attractions or to resolve gender dysphoria, and would make it more difficult for those clients to obtain professional assistance in living according to their faith and religious convictions. The proposed rule further would exert forceful legal pressure on therapists of faith to either provide therapy that is contrary to their religious convictions or to remain silent. The proposed rule could be regarded as neutral only if the State could demonstrate as a matter of scientific fact that same-sex attractions (or gender perception or gender confusion contrary to physiology) are immutable. The proposed rule implicitly presupposes the illegitimacy of religious beliefs that do not accept that proposition, that view same-sex sexual activity as immoral, or that reject transgenderism or gender-change procedures.
By Steven Done
Equality Utah and others are pushing to enact a broad ban on any therapies they refer to as "conversion therapy". The practical effect of this ban would be to prevent teens from receiving ethical therapies aimed at helping them live according to their deeply-held religious beliefs.
“Conversion therapy” is a term coined by political activists that is intentionally unclear. Ethical, licensed psychotherapists respect the right of clients to choose the goals of their therapy and help them work through emotional and relational issues that may influence these life circumstances. It is both dishonest and unfair to label these ethical mental health professionals as “conversion therapists”.
Equality Utah defines "conversion therapy" as "the practice of attempting to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity". The legislation they introduced in the Utah State Legislature defined it even more broadly:
"Conversion therapy" means any practice or treatment that seeks to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a patient or client, including mental health therapy that seeks to change, eliminate, or reduce behaviors, expressions, attractions, or feelings related to a patient or client's sexual orientation or gender identity.The proposed rule currently before Utah's Division of Occupational and Professional licensing closely mirrors the effect of the original legislation.
Under this definition, "conversion therapy" is any therapy with the goal of change - no matter the approach.
Remember: change is the goal of any therapy for any unwanted feelings. Therapy, by its very nature, for any purpose, has a goal of changing behaviors, feelings and expressions. Indeed, what would be the purpose of going to a licensed therapist for help if not to hope for some change, at a minimum, in behaviors?
It's time for society to push aside the propaganda.
Equality Utah and other lobbying groups are playing a careful game of word chess to attack ethical, positive therapies for unwanted same-sex attractions and gender identity conflicts. They do so in a few ways:
But the truth is, ethical therapists work to help their clients accomplish their chosen goals using standard techniques used for any unwanted behaviors or feelings, such as EMDR and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. They don't engage in aversive techniques. They don't guarantee change, even if that is the client's goal, just as they don't with any other unwanted behaviors or feelings. But they do help the client with their desired goal. They help their client think about attractions in different ways, heal wounds and rebuild relationships, reprocess old traumas to reduce their power, and overcome shame. This therapy approach is not shaming, coercive, or dangerous. Yet it still falls under the definition of "conversion therapy" proposed by Equality Utah and would be outlawed under the current proposed rule.
My therapist was instrumental to my healing. My attractions used to bring me a lot of shame, and they used to be a very powerful force in my life. I frequently thought of my "attractions" as a single thing that was exclusively related to sex, and as a result I deliberately avoided touching other men or looking them in the eye. The therapy I received from my licensed therapist focused on thinking about attractions in different ways, and on reducing the shame I felt. My therapist helped me see that most of what I was experiencing had nothing to do with sex. He helped me see that my desire for hugs from another man was a need for confirmation that I am valued by other men. I began to understand that intense feelings when looking other men in the eye were there because I had avoided it for so long, and because being seen by another person is a powerful experience. I came to understand that spending time with other men is a need that all men have. In other words, much of what I experience can be interpreted as intense desires for friendship and a deep, unfulfilled need for confirmation that I have value. I believe the eroticization came because I had denied myself true friendship for so long and because of the false stories I had in my head about the desires for friendship that I had. Not only did this approach greatly reduce the shame I felt, but it eliminated entirely my suicidal thoughts.
Ethical therapy for unwanted same-sex attractions and gender dysphoria is simply that - good, ethical, safe therapy. Equality Utah's definition of "conversion therapy" and the associated stories are straw men set up to distract from this fact. It is just like any other therapy for any other unwanted feelings or behaviors. It is not dangerous or shame-inducing. Indeed, it saved me and others I know from suicide. Had I not had the ability to set my own goals in therapy, I likely would have killed myself. Please help protect all teens by asking the licensing boards and the governor to keep all goals for therapy on the table.
Take a first step by signing this petition. You can find out about additional ways to help at ProtectAllTeens.com.
From Gayle Ruzicka, President of Utah Eagle Forum:
I recently checked the website for the Utah Board of Education looking for up-dated information on Health education. I was shocked to find some very disturbing information. For years Utah law has allowed for spontaneous questions in sex education classes. I have always been concerned about this and I use to keep an eye on what was happening, but like all of us, I got busier and busier and quit checking. That was a mistake. Below is an email I sent to the State School Board members and Superintendent Dickson. I also sent a similar letter to several legislators and I hand delivered a packet of information to the Governor and the AG.
Now I think we all need to get involved and let the the Board know that there has to be changes and children need to be protected. You also need to contact your legislators 'they need to change the law and remove the language allowing spontaneous questions. Thursday, September 5, is the monthly State School Board meeting. We need to show up to testify and ask that they shut down the spontaneous questions and they also need to stop any programs that create secrecy in the classroom. Said here, stays here, should never be said in a public school classroom.
The school board meeting is at 9:00 am Thursday morning. The address is 250 E 500 S Salt Lake City.
If you want to speak send an email or call: Lorraine Austin
Utah State Board of Education
PO Box 144200
Salt Lake City, UT 84114
Please bring a copy of your written testimony to leave with the board members. Even if you don't speak bring a statement for the Board members. it can be just one paragraph or 4 or 5 paragraphs. All they really need to know is you are concerned and you want changes. Alway include your name and contact information. Bring your friends with you.
If you can't make it to the meeting please send all of the Board members an email with your concerns. https://www.schools.utah.gov/board/utah/members. Click on each board member's name to get their contact information. Also contact your own legislator, House and Senate. It would be a good idea to send them emails even if you are at the Board meeting.
This is the email I sent to the State School Members with a copy to the Superintendent. It explains all of my concerns. Hopefully they are your concerns too.
Dear (School Board member's name)
As you know, Utah law allows teachers to answer spontaneous questions during sex education classes. I recently checked on the State Office of Education website under teacher’s resources to see what information was there for teachers about answering classroom questions. What I found was shocking. https://www.schools.utah.gov/file/03e62195-10a8-47af-810a-7234c7153008 I could not believe that teachers were having these very graphic discussions with Utah children. Parents would be shocked, and most would be angry. The worst part is that by the time the parents fine out, if they ever do, the children will already be damaged. As a member of the Utah State Board of Education it is your responsibility to protect Utah's students from exposure to this damaging information.
I was told that approximately 90% of the parents are allowing their children to participate in sex education classes because they think Utah teachers teach an abstinence-based curriculum. These allowed questions and the answers are as graphic as any Comprehensive Sex Education taught in the schools in California. Every parent should be given a copy of these questions along with the answers before they are asked to grant permission for their child to participate in sex education classes.
The guidelines say a teacher cannot answer a technique or “how to” question, yet in many cases by simply defining the individual sexual practice they are describing the "technique." Out of 29 questions under the heading of sex, only 4 times did the teacher say they could not answer that question, and yet most of the question are inappropriate. One of those 4 questions was, "How do you put on a condom?" The teacher said, "I am not permitted to answer. Please refer to the package instructions."
I assume that most of you have not read these questions and answers or you would be doing something about it. I find it embarrassing to have to send this email to you, but I do not know any other way to get this stopped because the children, as young as 13, could be discussing this in the classrooms. Who was responsible for compiling these questions and answers and putting them under the teacher's resources? The legislature should change this law. These spontaneous and inappropriate questions should not be allowed in the classroom. Children with questions should be encouraged to talk to their parents or, with parental permission, talk to the school nurse where the entire class will not be exposed to the individual student’s question.
One other concern. Many parents would not want their children to be taught about any of these alternative sexual practices, let alone that they are normal and acceptable.
There is another document under the teacher's resources that may explain why parents are not aware of these discussions in the classroom. This document is called "Ground Rules. Group Agreement/ Guidelines/ ROPES Activity. The first paragraph of this agreement states, "It is important when discussing topics surrounding sexual health to try and create an environment where everyone feels like they can voice their thoughts in a safe manner. These “ground rules” often take various forms, but the framework remains consistent."
This is the explanation for ROPES:
R: Respect, responsibility, keep it “real”, reporting
O: Open mind, opportunity, “Oops/Ouch”
P: Participating (with the right to “pass), personal questions, prepared
E: Empathy, education, excited, “escuchar” (Spanish for listen), ELMO
S: Said here, stays here (confidentially, unless…), safe space, self-aware, share, sense of humor
As you can see, S: says, "Said here, stays here." Children are agreeing to not share what they are talking about during this Q&A sharing time. They are having to choose between keeping the commitment they have made to their teacher and classmates to keep the conversation private versus talking to their own parents. Never should there be a pact made about keeping classroom secrets. There should never be classroom secrets.
Please do something to fix this very serious problem.
Gayle Ruzicka, President. Utah Eagle Forum
At no time may instruction be provided, including responses to spontaneous questions raised by students, regarding any means or methods that facilitate or encourage the violation of any state or federal criminal law by a minor or an adult.
Subsection (2)(e)(i) does not preclude an instructor from responding to a spontaneous question as long as the response is consistent with the provisions of this section
Volunteers of Utah Eagle Forum.