The fingers have been flying recently, writing letters to the editor.  Our local paper, The Visalia Times Delta, published on October 24 a letter bemoaning the recently passed SB 1172.  The California legislature passed, and Governor Brown signed, legislation that outlaws “reparative” therapy for anyone under the age of 18.  Predictably, the right wing is furious with this blatant usurpation of parental rights.  The writer of Wednesday’s letter seems to feel that parental rights trump any other concerns, and that disproven and harmful therapies are justifiable if parents think they are acceptable.  I wrote a response.  You can read both after the jump.

The Wednesday letter:

The issue is parental rights

You do not have to be a doctor, a scientist or a psychotherapist to understand that there has been a shift in the way people in our society think about homosexuality. It has been decided, by people who apparently are smarter than the rest of us, that this choice is not really a choice, but just simply is.

But this is America. We have freedom here. At least, we have our right to private counsel. At least, when we are confused about whether the thoughts in our head are telling us we are gay, or we are just desperate — we can go to a therapist and work out the details. At least, we as parents can send our children to a licensed therapist who can help them understand that adolescence is a turbulent time. And while there are a lot of influences that are out there, homosexuality does not have to be the only option that is out there. We do still have this option — right?

Apparently, this option is no longer on the table in California. SB1172 signed into law by governor Brown has put to rest this so-called “controversial form of psychotherapy.” The very people who tell us that choice is of utmost importance have taken this choice away from parents. I am appalled and disheartened. I know that there are people out there who are saying to themselves, “Well, this isn’t right, but what are you going to do? It is what it is.” That thought is the very reason that reckless laws such as this are introduced, voted upon in the Senate and Assembly, then signed into law by the governor. Think about these questions for a moment.

Do you believe that homosexuality is something that should be taught in our schools? Our governor passed a law last year that made it mandatory. He said, “History should be honest.” Your choice as a parent has been taken from you.

Do you believe that if your son or daughter comes to you and asks about homosexuality, that you have a right to tell them how you feel about it, whether it is accepting of it or not? Apparently, the state does not want you to say anything other than, “Homosexuality is great! You should try it!”

We are slowly being stripped of our rights as parents to instill the beliefs and morals that we hold dear. Instead, we are told that we must abide by the morals set forth by the state. However, if we do not agree, then we are ill-equipped as parents and the state will inform our kids and offer enlightenment. And now there is no therapy for our children that may help them to choose a lifestyle that we, the parents, believe in.

This law is about choices. It is about parental rights. It is about what we can or cannot teach our children. Even if you are a homosexual, if you have children, you should be very alarmed by this. Once the state has the right to tell parents what our kids will be taught, and what kind of therapy we can provide to our children, we have sealed the fate of our kids.

Do you not want to be able to teach your children? Do you not want guide, protect and nurture them? The state has dug its claws in. It will not let go without a fight.

This is how indoctrination begins. This goes beyond homosexuality. This is a fundamental turning point in our society. The question has been asked. Who has the right to raise our children? The state is telling us it does.

What do you say?

Nathan Shugert


My response was sent in Saturday night, by email.  We’ll see if they publish it in the printed edition.

Nathan Shugert, in his letter of October 24, asks “What do you say?”  Mr. Shugert is upset that the state legislature passed, and Governor Brown signed, SB 1172, which bans the use of so-called ‘reparative’ therapy on persons under the age of eighteen.  Every major psychological and psychiatric association, as well as most other medical organizations, have taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder, attempts to change one’s sexual orientation will not work, and in many cases the attempt to change is harmful to the individual.  The state legislature, in cooperation with state licensing boards of those orgainzations, whose members are, yes, smarter than we are, especially in the area of mental health, wrote the new law to protect juveniles from the dangers of these ‘therapies’.
Mr. Shugert is arguing for the right of parents to subject their children to disproven, harmful therapies, all in the name of “choice”.  Even as the professionals in the related fields have consistently reported that attempts to change one’s sexual orientation is not an acceptable therapeutic procedure, and does not work, some continue to subject patients to what Governor Brown rightly called “quackery”.
Our society gives parents a wide latitude in how they raise their children, but that is not an unlimited right, where parents are free to do whatever they like.  Just as we as a society will step in and prevent parents from withholding treatment for cancer simply because they think they can pray away the disease, we have now taken steps to prevent juveniles from being subjected to ‘therapy’ that is known to be ineffective, and damaging.  Adults can still undergo attempts to change their sexual orientation if they choose, but with this legislation nobody can force that on a juvenile.
Mr. Shugert is also upset that homosexuality is going to be “taught” in schools.  That is another piece of mis-information that the anti-gay forces have been lying about for years.  The only thing that will be “taught” about homosexuality is mentioning in passing, as appropriate, that certain historical figures, like Harvey Milk, were gay, and how that influenced their lives and contributions to our society.  Mr. Shugert and everyone else can rest easy, there won’t be “homosexual how-to’s” taught, and the ever present boogeyman of “recruiting” won’t (and doesn’t) happen.  Your precocious child won’t be turned gay by reading about Oscar Wilde or Walt Whitman.
Sexual orientation isn’t a choice one makes, it’s something each of us discovers about ourselves.  Nobody can talk us into one orientation or another, and being exposed to reality and truth won’t turn straight kids gay, any more than lying to them about it will prevent some from discovering they’re gay.  Denying truth simply encourages ignorance, fear, and bigotry.  Education is the light, denial the darkness.  I don’t have children, but I want my nieces and nephews, and their children, to live in the light.
I’m also a bit bewildered by Mr. Shugert’s concern that his attempts to instill beliefs and morals into his children are somehow being usurped by the state.  Really, Nathan?  The school only has them for six hours a day or so, five days a week, forty weeks a year, which works out to about 1,200 hours.  All the rest of the time, over 7,500 hours a year, they’re all yours.  If you can’t instill in your own children your values when you clearly should have the greatest influence on them, perhaps you would do well to re-examine your beliefs.  They appear, by your own admission, to be pretty weak, if you’re afraid your own children will reject them.

Jim Reeves, Jr.



Sometimes the paper waits weeks before printing a letter, but hopefully it won’t take that long for them to run mine.  I responded in the comments section of the online site, but that doesn’t reach an audience like the print issue does.  *crossing fingers*