ANCHORAGE COULD BAN SOME FORMS OF THERAPY FOR GAY CLIENTS
On Tuesday, the Anchorage Assembly will take up an ordinance that would prohibit counselors and therapists from helping young clients who are struggling with unwanted homosexual thoughts, gender dysphoria, or other gender identity or sexual variations.
Offered by three gay members of the Anchorage Assembly, the ordinance would mandate that if a minor wants counseling for unwanted sexual urges or expressions, therapists would have to end the counseling session and show their client the door. Families could, of course, travel to Palmer or Wasilla for such counseling, but it would not be available in Anchorage.
Opponents of the measure say the ordinance would infringe on the First Amendment rights of both patients and therapists, and put a chill on therapists who believe a young person is experiencing a temporary identity problem and want to explore what may be going on in that young person’s life.
The ordinance leans on the authority of a three-part story by the Anchorage Press that says persons who are homosexual are discriminated against. In the third part of the series, the Anchorage Press calls gender therapy “Conversion, The real hell,” focusing on two minors who had therapy forced on them by their parents.
The ordinance would not prevent pro-gay counseling and hormone therapies to assist a young person in presenting as the opposite sex or following romantic attractions with the same sex, but would prevent a counselor or therapist from any communication that would discourage that road for their patients.
In an Alaska Family Council workshop for pastors and others concerned that their religious freedoms or patient-therapist relationships are being infringed upon, Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council warned that sexuality among minors can change as children grow in or out of experimentation phases.
He said that the ban on counseling is a form of “viewpoint discrimination” by a governing body, and that is a constitutional infringement on many levels.
Going to counseling is deeply personal experience that involves viewpoints, perceptions, and emotions, and if therapists think they are going to be sued because they ask questions of their patients, it will make therapists suppress their own viewpoints.
Sprigg added that parents are in charge of the health care and development of their children, something that has been upheld numerous times at the U.S. Supreme Court, and that there are minors who do want to undergo counseling for homosexual urges.
He also faulted the ordinance because it refers to licensed counselors, but doesn’t say who the licensing authority is. In some cases, churches sanction or license counseling services through ordination.
The meeting starts at 5 pm, but the public is not allowed to attend, per an order by Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. You can find the full agenda and watch the proceedings at this link.