Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Agency
Department of Health Professions
Guidance Document Change: Consistent with the established position of the NASW, the Board considers “conversion therapy” or “sexual orientation change efforts” to be services that have the potential to be a danger to clients, especially minors. Thus, under regulations governing practitioners licensed or registered by the Board, practicing conversion therapy/sexual orientation change efforts with minors could result in a finding of misconduct and disciplinary action against the licensee or registrant.
Page of 15       comments per page    
Next     Back to List of Comments
 
5/1/19  10:54 am
Commenter: Jeff Caruso, Virginia Catholic Conference

Oppose Guidance Document
 

Dear Virginia Board of Social Work,

The Virginia Catholic Conference is the public policy agency representing Virginia’s Catholic bishops and their two dioceses. The Conference urges the Board of Social Work to reject the draft “Guidance Document on the Practice of Conversion Therapy (140-20).” If implemented, 140-20 would usurp the primary and fundamental role of parents, violate First Amendment rights, and exceed regulatory authority. 

Role of parents

Healthcare decisions involving the mental and emotional health of children do not fit neatly into “one-size-fits-all” regulations. Parents are closest to their children’s challenges. They know their unique needs and are in the best position to identify solutions. Some young people may have attractions they desire to change or moderate. Others may simply desire counseling to live a chaste life compatible with their religious or personal values. In either instance, there should be options available for families to make informed decisions.

Just as parents must give consent for over-the-counter medications,[1] field trips, and extracurricular activities, they have the constitutional right to guide mental health care for their children.

The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.[2]

140-20 also violates the presumption of parental autonomy in Virginia. Code Sec. 1-240.1 provides that a parent has the fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education and care of the parent’s child. 

Families should also be free to make these decisions in private consultation with their child’s social worker.

First Amendment

The First Amendment prohibits the government from favoring one viewpoint over another. 

[T]he government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter or its content…. [T]he requirement that the government be content neutral in its regulation of speech means that the government must be both viewpoint neutral and subject-matter neutral. The viewpoint-neutral requirement means that the government cannot regulate speech based on the ideology of the message.[3]

140-20 defines “conversion therapy” or “sexual orientation change efforts” as any practice or treatment that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation…or eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of any gender. Because it seeks, for example, to prohibit the provision of licensed services to help clients achieve alignment between their subjective sense of gender and their objective biological sex while permitting services to assist clients towards a subjective sense of gender at odds with their objective biological sex, it is neither content nor viewpoint neutral. In addition, 140-20 would allow those who provide services to assist clients in directing their attractions in one direction but not in the other direction.

Document 140-20, therefore, gives the Board sweeping authority to sanction social workers’ speech and engage in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.

Under this proposed definition, a teenage child who wants to grow in chastity and self-control would not be able to receive professional counseling to help achieve that goal.  Thus, in addition to infringing freedom of speech and parental rights, this expansive definition also poses the risk that families and children will lose the right to client self-determination (a core principle of the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics).[4]

As applied to faith-based, licensed social workers, 140-20 also would result in censorship of religious beliefs in violation of the First Amendment.

To comply with 140-20, these social workers must terminate or self-censor any conversation with a client that may tend toward reducing same-sex attraction, regardless of the client’s or family’s desire to seek counsel. Because of this, 140-20 would also impermissibly restrict a patient’s First Amendment freedom to speak candidly about intimate concerns and to receive guidance from a licensed professional social worker.

Ethics rules should be enforced and frequently examined for effectiveness and uniformity across all professions. They should also not be applied in ways that are biased to favor certain viewpoints or to target others for sanction. At a minimum, speech must be protected.

Conversely, 140-20 sets a double standard.  It does not, for example, sanction advocacy of dangerous treatments to accelerate “gender transition” among children, e.g., through irreversible surgery or hormonal treatments.

Exceeding regulatory authority

For reasons such as those explained above, the General Assembly has rejected legislation to ban “conversion therapy.” In 2016, the legislature rejected three such bills in committee: (SB 262 and SB 267, Senators Surovell and Dance; and HB 427, Delegate Hope) that would have prohibited “conversion therapy” on persons under 18 to change sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Similarly in 2018, the General Assembly rejected two bills (HB 363, Delegate Hope; SB 245 Senator Surovell) which would have prohibited social workers from providing any treatment to those under 18 which would seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex. Nearly identical to 140-20, these bills were also defeated in committee.

Administrative agencies can adopt rules and policies to carry out duties delegated by the legislature. The rules and policies, however, should be consistent with statutory provisions.[5] The General Assembly has specifically and repeatedly rejected proposed “conversion therapy” bans. The Board does not have the authority to adopt 140-20 because doing so would circumvent the General Assembly’s decisions in this matter.

Accordingly, the Virginia Catholic Conference urges the Board of Social Work to reject 140-20.

Sincerely,

 

Jeffrey F. Caruso

Executive Director

Virginia Catholic Conference

 


[1] http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/health_medical/medication/manual_training_admin-meds.pdf

[2] Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925). See also Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972).

[3] Erwin Chemerinsky, Content Neutrality as a Central Problem of Freedom of Speech in the Supreme Court’s Application, Southern California Law Review, Vol. 74: 49, 51 (2000). Citing Police Dep’t. v. Moseley, 408. U.S. 92, 95 (1972).

[4] Sec. 1.02 of the National Association of Social Workers Code of EthicsSelf-Determination -- Social workers respect and promote the right of clients to self-determination and assist clients in their efforts to identify and clarify their goals.

[5] Mobil Oil Exploration & Producing Southeast v. United Distrib. Cos., 498 U.S. 211 (U.S. 1991)


5/1/19  4:20 pm
Commenter: EDDY ALIFF, Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists

Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling same-sex attraction
 

I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:

1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.

2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.

3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings


5/2/19  8:12 am
Commenter: Christina Lenington

Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling
 
I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would: 1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion. 2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best. 3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings.

5/2/19  8:13 am
Commenter: Carol Aliff

Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling
 

I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:
1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.
3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings
 


5/2/19  8:13 am
Commenter: Brian Treacy

Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling
 

I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:
1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.
3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings


5/2/19  8:18 am
Commenter: Joseph Naylor

I strongly oppose
 
Comment Subject/title: Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling Comment: I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would: 1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion. 2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best. 3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings Comment Subject/title: Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling Comment: I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would: 1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion. 2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best. 3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings

5/2/19  8:24 am
Commenter: Sandra Garren

Opposition to current guidance Documents on Counseling
 


I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:
1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.
3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings


5/2/19  8:26 am
Commenter: Roger D Counts

Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling
 

I oppose the sugessted changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:

1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.

2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best

3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings.


5/2/19  8:29 am
Commenter: D K Cumbee

I am strongly opposed!
 

I am strongly opposed!


5/2/19  8:37 am
Commenter: Teresa Moore

Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling
 

I strongly oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would: 1) deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion, 2) prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best, and 3) deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings. 


5/2/19  8:38 am
Commenter: Jessie Bennett

I am opposed
 

  Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling

I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:
1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.
3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings
 


5/2/19  8:38 am
Commenter: Howard Caldwell/Lighthouse Baptist Church

Guidance Document on the Practice of Conversion Therapy
 

I am strongly opposed to the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:

* Deny social workers their freedom to helpo those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.

* Prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.

* Deny patients with unwanted same sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings.

 

 


5/2/19  8:40 am
Commenter: Shahn Wilburn, pastor Riverview Baptist Church

I am very much opposed to these proposed changes.
 

5/2/19  8:40 am
Commenter: James Grandinetti

Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling
 

I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:
1. Deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
2. Prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.
3. Deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings


5/2/19  8:40 am
Commenter: Jerry Liebert

Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling Comment: I oppose the suggested changes to
 


5/2/19  8:45 am
Commenter: Nichols Baker

I am very much opposed to the proposed guidance
 

I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:
1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.
3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings.

4. Would interfere with their free speech!!

Thank you for the ability to comment!!

 


5/2/19  8:46 am
Commenter: Church Security Institute

Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling
 
I would loike to stste that I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would: 1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion. 2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best. 3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings your comments here. You are limited to approximately 3000 words.

5/2/19  8:47 am
Commenter: Jerry Liebert - Retired Varina Baptist Church

Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling
 

Comment:   
I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:
1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.
3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings


5/2/19  8:54 am
Commenter: April Brown

Guidance Document on the Practice of Conversion Therapy (125-9)
 

Please please please  do not pass this... do not take away MORE of our personal freedoms.


5/2/19  9:02 am
Commenter: David Bellomy

Please read and consider my concerns
 

I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:
1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.
3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings
 


5/2/19  9:06 am
Commenter: Beatriz Steinman

Opposition to current counseling changes
 
I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would: 1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion. 2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best. 3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings

5/2/19  9:18 am
Commenter: Holly Zinn, Community Volunteer

Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling
 

As a community volunteer who advocates for children in Henrico County's Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and works alongside DSS, I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:

1. Deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to receive the necessary counseling they seek to overcome their feelings. Not all minors wish to have same-sex attraction or change their gender identity. If "conversion therapy" is banned, no one will be able to help these children.

2. Deny social workers their first-amendment right to free speech to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion. Good social workers are hard to find and retain considering their low wages, high stress, and never-ending caseloads. This ban would limit the potential pool of social workers.

3. Prevent parents/guardians from seeking the support services for their child as they deem best. This ban denies parents/guardians their God-given right to raise their children as they deem appropriate, and it fails to allow parents to act in the best interest of the child. 

Thank you for your consideration.


5/2/19  9:18 am
Commenter: Colonial Baptist Church

I strongly oppose!
 

T

I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:
1. Deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
2. Prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.
3. Deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings.

4. Would interfere with their free speech!!

Thank you for the ability to comment!

Joel Wegner, Associate Pastor To Youth & Music; Colonial Baptist Church


5/2/19  9:40 am
Commenter: Lakeside Baptist Church

Oppose Changes to Counseling in Regards to Gender
 

Dear Sirs:  I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:
1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.
3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings.   

Thanks for the Opportunity to Comment,

Carl Goodman, Senior Pastor

 

 


5/2/19  9:41 am
Commenter: VAIB

I strongly oppose!
 

I am an Registered Nurse and a parent to 4 children! 

Please consider our first amendment rights to free speech! Consider the mental health of these UNHAPPY youth! 


I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:
1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.
3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings


5/2/19  9:41 am
Commenter: VALLEY VIEW BAPTIST CHURCH

strongly oppose the guidance document on the practice of conversion therapy
 


5/2/19  9:46 am
Commenter: Carrie Mohler

Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling
 

I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:
1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.
3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings.

I am astounded that a state government we would want to put kids and adults in this dangerous position. Youth who suffer from Gender Dysphoria Syndrome are at a 50% more likely rate to attempt suicide and adults who suffer from Gender Dysphoria Syndrome are at a 41% more likely chance to commit suicide. 


5/2/19  9:49 am
Commenter: Alton Cothron

Oppose changes to counseling practices
 

I strongly oppose the proposed changes to counseling practices because they will be destructive. Parents rights will be denied, counselees will become confused to the point of possible depression or suicide.


5/2/19  9:51 am
Commenter: Cary Borkert

I strongly oppose the current guidance documents on counseling!!
 

I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regultions as these changes would : 

1. Deny the social worker their freedom to help those how are that are seeking help with unwanted Same-sex attraction.

2. It would deny the right of an individual that has unwanted same-sex attraction from getting the help he so desires.

3. Pervents a parent from doing what they feel is best for their child

 

 


5/2/19  10:04 am
Commenter: Nicky Mays

Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling
 
I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would: 1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion. 2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best. 3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings

5/2/19  10:25 am
Commenter: milly

Opposition
 

I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:


1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.
3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings
 


5/2/19  10:51 am
Commenter: Kevin VanGorder

Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling
 

I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:
1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.
3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelingspe over this text and enter your comments here.

Kevin VanGorder


5/2/19  11:09 am
Commenter: Charles and Betty Alvis

Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling
 

I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:

1.  Deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.

 

2.  Prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.

 

3.  Deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings.


5/2/19  11:17 am
Commenter: Amy Charles

Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling
 



I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:
1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.
3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings


5/2/19  11:39 am
Commenter: Jennifer Konek

I oppose restricting social worker's speech.
 
I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would: 1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion. 2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best. 3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings. Thank you very much.

5/2/19  12:07 pm
Commenter: Beverly Bechtel

Social workers/ gender counseling
 
Type over this text and Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling Comment: I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would: 1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion. 2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best. 3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings your comments here. You are limited to approximately 3000 words.

5/2/19  12:57 pm
Commenter: HUnter See

Strongly oppose
 

I oppose this based on the following: It denies services desired by parents; it usurps parental rights; it violates social worker free speech and potentially life saving practices; and it contradicts the U.S. Constitution, Virginia Statutes, and will of Virginians and their elected representatives in the General Asembly, as well as the basic right of freedom of religion.


5/2/19  1:04 pm
Commenter: Jeannie Sollie

Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling
 

I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:
1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.
3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings


5/2/19  1:37 pm
Commenter: Fred Gray

I oppose restricting social worker's speech
 

You cannot take away a freedom that is provided by the Constitution. 

It contradicts the U.S. Constitution, Virginia Statutes, and will of Virginians and their elected representatives in the General Assembly.

 
The U.S. Supreme Court recently rejected the state of California’s claim that “professional speech” receives less First Amendment protection than ordinary speech, stating that: “This Court has not recognized ‘professional speech’ as a separate category of speech. Speech is not unprotected merely because it is uttered by ‘professionals’ (NIFLA v. Becerra).


5/2/19  2:08 pm
Commenter: Josh Hetzler, Legislative Counsel for The Family Foundation of Virginia

Unlawful Censorship of Speech
 

I write to express The Family Foundation of Virginia's opposition to the Board of Social Work's proposed Guidance Document 140-20. Such guidance will not only cause numerous ethical and moral harms to professionals, as well as developmental harms to children, but it is at odds with the laws of Virginia and the Constitution of the United States. 

As a general matter, the Virginia Code expressly provides that parents, not the government and its regulatory agencies, have a “fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care of the parent's child.” Va. Code § 1-240.1 However, the effect of this Guidance Document would unduly limit the right of parents to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care of their child by preventing them from getting them the help they and their child need and desire.

Virginia’s constitution declares that “the right to be free from any governmental discrimination upon the basis of religious conviction . . . shall not be abridged[.]” Constitution of Virginia, Article 1, Section 11 (Bill of Rights). This Guidance Document would directly discriminate against Christian, Jewish, and Muslim social work professionals who maintain, as a fundamental tenet of their faith, that human beings are created by God as either male or female and that human sexuality is only properly expressed between a man and a woman in the context of marriage. Such a conception of human sexuality reflects the historical, conventional, and orthodox views of these major faith traditions, and has transcended cultures and boundaries for millennia. Denying licensed social workers through this policy the ability to acknowledge this while acting in their professional capacity subjects them to "discrimination on the basis of religious conviction," and thus runs afoul of one of Virginia’s most basic constitutional guarantees.

The Board's policy as expressed in this proposed Guidance Document would also be unconstitutional in light of the U.S. Constitution because it would infringe on the free speech rights of professional social workers by prohibiting them from speaking certain messages (or, if not strictly prohibiting it, then by significantly "chilling" their free speech). In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the state of California’s claim that so-called “professional speech” receives less First Amendment protection than ordinary speech, stating that: “This Court has not recognized ‘professional speech’ as a separate category of speech. Speech is not unprotected merely because it is uttered by ‘professionals.’” National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, 138 S. Ct. 2361, 2371-72 (2018).

The Supreme Court's opinion highlighted three cases – two of which involved state bans on so-called “conversion therapy” for minors – as being erroneously decided for holding that counseling was afforded less constitutional protection as a matter of free speech. As a result, the lower court cases upholding bans on “conversion therapy” were effectively overruled. Because this policy would have the effect of censoring the protected speech of social work professionals in Virginia, it would not likely survive a legal challenge. If this Board does go forward with such a violation of free speech, it should expect such a challenge. 

Effectively prohibiting the practice of so-called “conversion therapy” among licensed social workers, as the draft Guidance Document defines that term, goes too far in its attempt to address the hypothetical concerns some have raised. (It is worth noting that no known complaint has ever been received by any of the health regulatory boards concerning "conversion therapy.") As the term is now over-broadly and vaguely defined, it “compels individuals to contradict their most deeply held beliefs, beliefs grounded in basic philosophical, ethical, or religious precepts, or all of these.” NIFLA v. Becerra, 138 S. Ct. 2361, 2379 (Kennedy, J., concurring).That is something this Board may not do.

The Supreme Court in NIFLA cautioned that “when the government polices the content of professional speech, it can fail to ‘preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will ultimately prevail.’” Id. at 2374 (quoting McCullen v. Coakley, 134 S. Ct. 2518, 2529 (2014)). There are significant disagreements about the merit of therapies and methods which help a young person resolve, and in many cases by reversing their unwanted sexual attractions or gender confusion (read testimonies of many for whom this happened at https://changedmovement.com/). These disagreements should be settled in the marketplace of ideas and according to the wishes of the minor and his or her parents. The effect of this regulation, however, would only be to silence unpopular ideas and suppress information.

We urge this Board to heed the words of the U.S. Supreme Court when it observed that “‘the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market’ and the people lose when the government is the one deciding which ideas should prevail.” Id. at 2375 (quoting Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616, 630 (1919) (Holmes, J., dissenting)).

 


5/2/19  2:53 pm
Commenter: John Atchison

Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling
 

 I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:
1. Deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
2. Prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.
3. Deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings

 


5/2/19  3:23 pm
Commenter: Beckie Hibbard, ODACS

I'm opposed to current guidance documents on counseling
 

I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:
1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion. These are competent adults who serve the general public at critical times, when counsel is a vital first step to aiding any individual in crisis.
2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best. This approach allows the state to "assume custody" of a child and make life-changing decisions for that child rather than allow parents to respond to the child they know well and understand. Not every comment a child makes is reality; our youth struggle through many things in their minds, and simply need guidance. Who best to help them receive guidance than the parents, who know them best?
3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion the ability to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings. How cruel to counsel an individual to desire those UNWANTED feelings! Would you counsel someone with unwanted suicidal thoughts to embrace those thoughts? NO. Counseling should never be about promoting anyone's agenda. It must remain about helping the patient toward healing and recovery. To require a counselor to always provide one approach to a multitude of patients is to provide indoctrination, not counseling.

4. It contradicts the U.S. Constitution, Virginia Statutes, and will of Virginians and their elected representatives in the General Assembly. When the bureaucracy tries to override the citizens and their elected governing bodies, it is usurping its authority. This is clearly the work of a group with an agenda.


5/2/19  4:14 pm
Commenter: Peggy Samuels

Dangerous Ban on Biologically Affirming Counseling
 

This usurps parents rights given by God Almighty, the Ultimate authority of us All; and that Includes the state of Virginia!


5/2/19  4:26 pm
Commenter: Curtis Race

Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling
 

I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:
1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.
3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings

Social workers should be allowed to give help to people in the manner they need it and not what others decide for them. Parents should not be usurped in these maters. Patients should be allowed to have their desired counseling.

Please vote against this.


5/2/19  4:58 pm
Commenter: Jean S Pauley

Opposition to changes to social workers regulations
 

Type over t               Opposition to current guidance documents on counseling
Comment:   
I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:
1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.
3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings


5/2/19  6:30 pm
Commenter: Practical Educators Association

Guidance Document on the Practice of Conversion Therapy
 

This proposal to ban comprehensive consuling as outlined in the above mentioned document in order to promote the LGBT agenda by eliminating all non affermative LGBT speech from the professional domain is attempting to trample on the Consituational rights of all individuals who hold to traditional values in Virginia, and should be rejected.

 

1. It denies services DESIRED by PATIENTS.

Children and youth with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion NEED Biologically Affirming Counseling that can help them potentially avoid permanent medical mutilation and sterilization, depression, and even suicide caused by maltreatment.

2. It usurps PARENTAL RIGHTS.

The Code of Virginia affirms parents’ “fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care of the parent’s child.” The new guidance would pave the way for court-ordered child abuse!

3. It VIOLATES social worker free speech and potentially LIFE-SAVING PRACTICES.

Again, the health and wellbeing of the child or youth would be endangered by a blanket ban on helpful counseling NEEDED by a counselor’s patient. Today’s Biologically Affirming Counseling is NOT “shock therapy” or any other outdated mode of treatment. The best science available proves gender identification and same-sex attraction are NOT IMMUTABLE and treating patients using false data is not just negligent, it’s potentially life-threatening!

4. It contradicts the U.S. Constitution, Virginia Statutes, and will of Virginians and their elected representatives in the General Assembly.

 
Finally, The U.S. Supreme Court recently rejected the state of California’s claim that “professional speech” receives less First Amendment protection than ordinary speech, stating that: “This Court has not recognized ‘professional speech’ as a separate category of speech. Speech is not unprotected merely because it is uttered by ‘professionals’ (NIFLA v. Becerra).

 


5/2/19  6:36 pm
Commenter: Dr. Robert Downing

Oppose the proposed “Guidance Document on the Practice of Conversion Therapy (125-9)”
 

I oppose the proposed legislation based on the following:

  1. It denies services DESIRED by PATIENTS.

Children and youth with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion NEED Biologically Affirming Counseling that can help them potentially avoid permanent medical mutilation and sterilization, depression, and even suicide caused by maltreatment.

  1. It usurps PARENTAL RIGHTS.

The Code of Virginia affirms parents’ “fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care of the parent’s child.” The new guidance would pave the way for court-ordered child abuse!

  1. It VIOLATES social worker free speech and potentially LIFE-SAVING PRACTICES.

Again, the health and wellbeing of the child or youth would be endangered by a blanket ban on helpful counseling NEEDED by a counselor’s patient. Today’s Biologically Affirming Counseling is NOT “shock therapy” or any other outdated mode of treatment. The best science available proves gender identification and same-sex attraction are NOT IMMUTABLE and treating patients using false data is not just negligent, it’s potentially life-threatening!

  1. It contradicts the U.S. Constitution, Virginia Statutes, and will of Virginians and their elected representatives in the General Assembly.

 


5/2/19  7:51 pm
Commenter: Jeff Vickers

I strongly oppose
 

This goes against the very core of what the USA stands for and what our constutition is here to protect. That is the freedom for people to choose as a patient, parent, business owner, and professional in this case.  Plain and simple, this would unduly impose other points of view and opinions on others at the expense of individual liberty.

I strongly oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:
1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.
3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings

Thanks for the opportunity to express my opposition. I trust you prayerfuly consider this points.


5/2/19  7:52 pm
Commenter: Dennis Patterson

Biologically Affirming Counseling
 

Comment:   
I oppose the suggested changes to the social workers regulations as these changes would:
1. deny social workers their freedom to help those who want counseling to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
2. prevent parents from getting help for their child as they deem best.
3. deny patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion to get the desired counseling to overcome these feelings