California is poised to pass a bill that is terrible for LGBT people.
AB 2943 bans “sexual orientation change efforts” as “fraudulent,” “false,” and “deceptive.” Conservatives are mobilizing against the bill, but liberals should oppose it too. Here are four reasons why:
Reason No. 1: The bill contradicts liberals’ own narrative.
The ban on “sexual orientation change efforts” assumes that sexual orientation does not change—that it is immutable.
But that assumption has been soundly debunked. Lisa Diamond (who identifies as lesbian) found that among those who had “come out” as homosexual, 84 percent of women and 78 percent of men changed their identity label at least once—to bisexual, queer, unlabeled, or heterosexual.
Moreover, many people do not fit neatly into the prescribed categories. Diamond discovered that among those who identify as homosexual, 40 percent of men and 48 percent of women reported sexual attraction to the opposite sex in the previous year. In fact, 12 percent of homosexual men and 9 percent of lesbians reported having sex with someone of the opposite sex during the past year.
The New Scientist concludes, “Sexuality is fluid: It’s time to get past ‘born this way.’”
AB 2943 clashes with liberals’ own view of sexual fluidity.
Reason No. 2: The bill infringes on the liberty of LGBT people.
AB 2943 also outlaws efforts to change “gender identity.” But virtually all sex education curricula rely on the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), which states explicitly, “People’s understanding of their gender identity may change over the course of their lifetimes.”
A recent example is a girl named Noor, who transitioned at age 11 to live as a trans boy. Three years later, she de-transitioned to embrace her biological identity as a girl, explaining, “it’s not conversion therapy to learn to love your body.”
Liberals have embraced the concept of fluidity for a long time. Back in 1998, a psychotherapist wrote, people “don’t want to fit into any boxes—not gay, straight, lesbian, or bisexual ones.... They want to be free to change their minds.”
AB 2943 infringes on the liberty of LGBT people to choose a counselor when exercising their freedom to “change their minds.”
Reason No. 3: The bill bans a practice it cannot even define.
The bill’s drafters use the term “sexual orientation” without defining it. We may think we all know what it means, but academic researchers say there is no single feature that “qualifies” a person as homosexual or lesbian.
In fact, the radical left is pushing the theory that human sexuality can be deconstructed into a patchwork of disconnected, fragmented parts and pieces.
That theory is being taught to school children across the nation using a cartoon called the Gender Unicorn, created by Trans Student Educational Resources. It claims that sexuality consists of five components, which may not align with one another: gender identity, gender expression, sex “assigned” at birth, physical attraction, and romantic attraction.
So what is sexual orientation—feelings, behavior, identity, sexual or romantic attraction? California lawmakers do not say. All of these terms are simply thrown into the bill without any legal definition.
AB 2943 is poised to punish professional therapists, damage their reputation, and threaten their livelihood, based on a concept that lawmakers cannot define. How is that fair?
Reason No. 4: The bill violates the free speech rights of LGBT people.
The drafters of AB 2943 claim they want to outlaw so-called conversion therapy. But the actual language goes much further. The bill is an amendment to California’s consumer fraud law, and it criminalizes as “unlawful business practices” the sale of any goods or services saying that people can change their sexual feelings/behavior/identity.
The language is so broad it could cover books, videos, and other educational materials, courses and conferences. Even advertising or promoting them is banned.
So what happens if a counselor advises her client to buy Diamond’s “Sexual Fluidity” or Savin-Williams’s “Mostly Straight: Sexual Fluidity among Men?” Does that qualify as “advertising”? Does it put the counselor in legal jeopardy?
Moreover, the bill goes beyond targeting professional therapists to cover anyone. It could criminalize any product dissenting from a radical leftist ideology that even many liberals do not hold.
But liberals do not seem to notice that this ban will also disempower LGBT people. It is a serious violation of their freedom of speech—the right of consenting adults to explore all therapy options with a counselor of their choice, without requiring approval from a micromanaging state.
In short, AB 2943 is a legislative disaster. Open-minded people across the political spectrum should unite to oppose it.
Nancy Pearcey is author of “Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life & Sexuality.”