Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Health Professions
Board of Counseling
Regulations Governing the Practice of Professional Counseling [18 VAC 115 ‑ 20]
Action Unprofessional conduct - conversion therapy
Comment Period Ended on 8/7/2019
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7/26/19  12:47 pm
Commenter: Melissa Swearingen

No bans on discussing sexual ethics

Dear Sir/Madam: I understand you are moving forward with a proposal to ban, for minors, “any practice or treatment that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to… reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of any gender.”  As a parent, this concerns me regarding advice I may give to my child and our religious liberty to teach our children according to the sexual ethics of the Catholic Church, which we whole-heartedly believe in and believe ultimately allows for the greatest human flourishing and happiness. 

In addition, I think it is only fair to children, since most who experience gender dysphoria experience it only temporarily, to not prohibit counselors and therapists from working with a child in keeping with his/her values and religious beliefs. Allowing professionals to counsel a child in the direction that seems best for this child, even if that is not acting on sexual impulses or not altering their gender identity from biological identity - advice cannot reasonably be mandated to only advise in one direction, how can one answer be best for every child that comes in for therapy or counseling? 

Finally, I deeply believe all persons who identify as LGBTQ are entitled to our respect and equal treatment under the law and in practice, my views here are not in any way meant to make someone feel belittled or unwanted. Rather, I disagree that banning professionals and parents from being able to discuss sexual behaviors and ethics in keeping with Christian ethics is inherently bad for children. In fact, I think the opposite provided it is done respectfully and in love. I hope you will reconsider pushing this ban through and that all of us can continue dialoguing on these issues respectfully. 


Melissa Swearingen 

CommentID: 74337