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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8/7/19  11:55 pm
Commenter: Wanda Wylam, M.S.

Do Not Adopt the Dangerous and Unconstitutional Board of Counseling's Guidance Document

All Virginians--even our young people--deserve the right to hold private conversations with trusted counselors, free from government censorship. The Board's Guidance Document threatens the free speech of counselors and it takes options away from clients who are seeking guidance consistent with their religious beliefs. The Board should not be inserting itself in private conversations between counselor and client, and counselors should not be forced to be a mouthpiece for the Board's favored viewpoint on human sexuality. Further, the Board has no business telling a client what personal goals he/she can or cannot pursue.

A federal lawsuit, Schwartz v. City of New York, that was filed in January 2019, has implications on the adoption of the Board's Guidance Document. The New York City ordinance censors what counselors can say as they work with their clients.  It allows counselors to help a client explore, develop or gain comfort with same-sex attraction or gender identity but makes it illegal to help a client address unwanted same-sex attractions or confusion over gender identity. Notably, just as the New York City ordinance, the Board's Guidance Document only prohibits counsel in one direction--that is, it prohibits assisting a client who desires to reduce same-sex attraction or achieve comfort in a gender identity that matches his/her physical body. This is discrimination at its worst. 

CommentID: 75733