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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.
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5/14/19  10:43 am
Commenter: Terrence J. Smith

Oppose Guidance Document on the Practice of Conversion Therapy
 

Dear Virginia Board of Social Work,

I am writing to express my opinion on the “Guidance Document on the Practice of Conversion Therapy and urge the Board of Social Work to reject the draft “Guidance Document on the Practice of Conversion Therapy.” If enacted, this document would usurp the primary and fundamental role of parents, violate First Amendment rights, and exceed regulatory authority. 

It is the responsibility and duty of the parents to make healthcare decisions involving the mental and emotional health of their children.  The children are not wards of the state, and it is not the state’s responsibility to determine what should be taught to the children concerning conversion therapy. 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, field trips, and extracurricular activities, they have the constitutional right to guide mental health care for their children.

Guidance Document on the Practice of Conversion Therapy 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.

I concur with the comments of Jeff Caruso, Executive Director of the Virginia Catholic conference concerning first amendment of the United States Constitution.

Terrence J. Smith