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A friend-of-the-court brief in which we argue that “ex-gay” therapy harms minors and urge a federal court to uphold a California law banning sexual orientation change efforts by state-licensed providers.


Lambda Legal, representing 12 regional and national organizations working with LGBT youth, filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals urging the court to uphold SB 1172, the California law prohibiting state-licensed mental health providers from using dangerous sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE)—sometimes referred to as “ex-gay therapy”—with minors. The organizations represented by Lambda Legal in the brief have experienced, observed, and cared for LGBTQ youth suffering the harms of SOCE. From community centers to therapists’ organizations to crisis hotlines, they have witnessed first-hand the casualties of baseless promises in the guise of ‘therapy’ to change sexual orientation and gender identity. In the brief, Lambda Legal argues SB 1172 protects children and families from the trauma of this so-called ex-gay therapy and the trail of fractured lives and ruptured families left in its wake. The brief cites both historical evidence and interviews with youth who have experienced this “therapy.”

Two separate lawsuits have been filed challenging the law: Pickup v. Brown and Welch v. Brown, and the judges in these two cases issued conflicting rulings. In Pickup, the U.S. District Court judge refused to delay enforcement of the law, while in Welch a different U.S. District Court judge granted the plaintiffs’ motion seeking a delay in implementation. The plaintiffs appealed the Pickup ruling to the Ninth Circuit of Appeals, as did the defendants—California Gov. Jerry Brown and other state officials—in the Welch case. It is expected the appeals in both cases will be combined.

Represented by Lambda Legal on the amicus brief are: Children’s Law Center of California; Dependency Legal Group of San Diego; East Bay Children’s Law Offices; Gaylesta; Legal Advocates for Children and Youth (LACY); The LGBTQ-Affirmative Therapist Guild of Utah; Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center; Los Angeles Youth Network (LAYN); Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG); Public Counsel; The Trevor Project; and Truth Wins Out.