Massachusetts Legislature: Protecting Our Kids? Or Taking Them By Eminent Domain?

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If you have kids, are they yours or are they the government’s?

That’s what at stake with House Bill 1190, which the Massachusetts Legislature may vote on tomorrow. It’s called “An Act Relative To Abusive Practices To Change Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Minors.”

But it could be called “An Act Relative To Separating Children from Their Parents.”

Let’s say a parent detects confusion in a child concerning sexuality, and believes that it’s in the child’s best interests to solve the confusion by trying to match up the child’s biological sex with the gender the child identifies with and a heterosexual sexual orientation. And let’s say the parent finds a therapist in Massachusetts willing to try to do just that.

Such a therapist who acts on the parent’s wishes could have a license suspended or revoked if this bill becomes law. In other words, there would be no legal way for a parent to try to find psychotherapeutic help for a child that conforms with what the parent believes is in the child’s best interests – and at the time when intervention might succeed, as opposed to later on when orientation and identity might be more formed.

Do you disagree with this parent’s approach? Nobody says you have to follow it. But is it really the government’s prerogative to force a parent to abandon what the parent plausibly believes is best for the child?

The bill could also be called “An Act Relative To Separating Therapists from Their Religion,” since it provides support for therapists who act outside the confines of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The bill explicitly protects therapists whose practices “provide acceptance, support, and understanding of an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression” – in other words, to practices that go against Leviticus in the Hebrew Scriptures, St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians in the New Testament, and the Qur’an and hadith.

Not religious? Don’t care about what these religions have to say about sexuality? Nobody says you have to follow them. But is it really the government’s prerogative to tell therapists that they have to abandon their religion to pursue their occupation?

Sexuality divides Americans. We are unlikely to see a time soon when the vast majority of us agree on how to approach it.

But we’re all better off in a society that allows a diversity of therapeutic approaches to emotional problems, and that respects parents enough to make vital choices for their minor children without Big Brother intervening.