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'Conversion Therapy' May Hinge On Pot Precedent

Publication Date: 
March 08, 2013
The Recorder
Scott Graham

Professor Pam Karlan is one of  two First Amendment scholars mentioned by The Recorder's Scott Graham in this article on the controversial topic of "Conversion Therapy" on minors and whether the efforts are protected under the First Amendment. 

Forced by his parents to undergo therapy to "fix" his homosexuality, Ryan Kendall ran away from home and legally separated from his family. "At the age of 16, I had lost everything," Kendall told the California Legislature last year. "My family and my faith had rejected me, and the damaging messages of conversion therapy, coupled with this rejection, drove me to the brink of suicide."

Responding to Kendall and others who say they've been similarly victimized, the Legislature banned licensed mental health professionals from practicing what's known as sexual orientation change efforts — also known as SOCE or conversion therapy — on minors.


An amicus group of First Amendment scholars, including UC-Irvine's Erwin Chemerinsky and Stanford's Pamela Karlan, argue that SOCE isn't worthy of First Amendment protection, but if the court finds it is, the law meets heightened scrutiny.