In one of the most progressive moves in California history, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation that makes the Golden State the first to ban a controversial form of psychotherapy that's aimed at making gay teenagers straight.
Beginning Jan. 1, mental health practitioners are prohibited from performing sexual orientation change efforts - known as reparative or conversion therapy - for anyone under 18.
As reported by the Associated Press:
The therapies "have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery," Brown said in a statement.
Mainstream associations representing psychiatrists and psychologists have dismissed reparative therapy in recent decades. A number of mental health associations in California - including the state's Board of Behavorial Sciences, the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and the California Psychological Association - supported the legislation.
But some organizations and ministries continue to use counseling and prayer to try to help conflicted Christians rid themselves of unwanted homosexual inclinations.
Gay rights activists have said the damage they inflict on individuals can be deep and lasting and can put youth at higher risk of depression and suicide.
"We're grateful to Gov. Brown for standing with California's children," the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement. "LGBT youth will now be protected from a practice that has not only been debunked as junk science, but has been proven to have drastically negative effects on their well-being."
The group called on other states to follow California's lead on the issue but many religious groups and some Republicans have argued that banning conversion therapy would hinder parents' right to provide psychological care for children experiencing gender confusion.
The thing is; no one, not even parents, should force children to change the way they are.