ADDISON, Texas — Members of the Texas Democratic Secular Caucus are calling for Texas to become the latest state to ban a controversial therapy that aims to change sexual orientation.
The group plans to lobby state and local leaders in 2020 to ban conversion therapy in Texas.
If the caucus is successful, Texas would join a list of 18 states that have banned similar types of treatments.
“We believe that it is harmful to LGBTQ+ individuals in that it convinces them that they are broken and in need of repair,” said caucus treasurer Susan Turpin. “We believe that all individuals are equal, and fight against destructive practices like conversion therapy.”
In May, Colorado passed legislation that outlawed psychotherapy seeking to change minors’ sexual orientation or gender identity.
Caucus members recently held a protest outside the Addison clinic of therapist David Pickup, who calls his methods by a different name: re-integrative therapy.
Pickup says he only works with patients who believe their homosexual thoughts and feelings are not genetic but rooted in childhood sexual abuse or emotional neglect.
“All re-integrative therapists believe that all individuals are equal and have inalienable rights to therapy that actually works for them,” Pickup said. “To deny them that right conflicts with the very rights this caucus claims to champion.”
Pickup said his clinic refuses to treat children who believe their sexual orientation or gender identity is genetic and are brought in by adults.
“No ethical therapist ever forces anyone into any kind of therapy,” Pickup said.
The practice can also be harmful to adults, Turpin said.
“It is primarily a religious-based practice that is rooted in the idea that LGBTQ+ individuals are somehow less than ideal based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” she said.
The American Medical Association has spoken out against sexual orientation change efforts, which range from electric shock and chemically-induced nausea to psychotherapy.
“Underlying these techniques is the assumption that homosexuality and gender identity are mental disorders and that sexual orientation and gender identity can be changed,” reads an AMA brief published this year. “This assumption is not based on medical and scientific evidence.”
In addition to lobbying state leaders, the caucus plans to work with residents in Addison and other communities to seek a ban on these types of treatments at the local level.