Governor Brown Signs California Bill to…
Governor Brown Signs California Bill to Regulate Residential Programs Notorious for Abusing, Attempting to “Convert” LGBT Youth
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Governor Jerry Brown signed a landmark bill into law today to regulate the industry of residential programs that claim to help “troubled” youth, including those who are simply lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Only a few states regulate the “troubled teen” industry; Senate Bill 524 is the most comprehensive of its kind, with no exemption for religious-based businesses.
Co-sponsored by the Los Angeles LGBT Center and Survivors of Institutional Abuse (SIA) and introduced by State Senator Ricardo Lara, SB 524—also known as the “Protecting Youth from Institutional Abuse Act”—will finally regulate an industry that’s notorious for abusing young people and for harming LGBT youth while trying to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Today, Governor Jerry Brown became a hero to thousands of endangered youth—especially LGBT youth—when he signed a landmark bill that will save them from harm and even death,” said Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean. “These programs can no longer shut down in one California city, after reports of abuse surface, and open in another California town to continue their abuse under a new name. No longer can these programs—many of which claim to be Christian-based—hide behind their cross, asserting religious exemption to continue torturing LGBT youth they claim they can ‘cure.’ Now, thanks to the actions of our state legislature and our governor, LGBT youth—and youth throughout the state—are protected from the abuses of this industry.”
Senator Lara joined the Center and SIA to announce the introduction of the “Protecting Youth from Institutional Abuse Act” at a news conference hosted by the Center and SIA in March 2015, which is when the two organizations announced the launch of their campaign to regulate the troubled teen industry in California and throughout the country.
“Under the veil of religious exemption, some facilities in California, throughout the country and abroad claim to help ‘cure’ LGBT kids through residential schools, camps or wilderness programs,” said Senator Lara. “We know some of these camps are detrimental to the physical and mental health of our youth. SB 524 will set in place much needed reforms because without oversight, it is impossible to protect these kids.”
The U.S. Government Accountability Office reported that in just one year (2005), 1,619 program employees—in 33 states—were involved in incidents of abuse. SIA reports the deaths of more than 300 people who are linked to these programs. Federal legislation is essential because it is common for programs forced to close in one state to reopen in another, often under a different name.
“As a survivor of institutional abuse, I have been waiting 20 years for California to regulate these programs,” said Jodi Hobbs, president of SIA. “Too many kids have died or killed themselves because of what they experienced. Those who survive often suffer life-long trauma. Thank you, Governor Brown, for signing this legislation to protect youth from institutional abuse and to bring justice to those who are abusing our youth, our most vulnerable. Now, we’re going to take our efforts to a national level with the federal legislation that Congressman Adam Schiff has put forward. We are going to protect the youth across the United States.”
In July 2015, U.S. Representatives Adam Schiff (D- CA 28th District) Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL 27th District) joined the Center, SIA and Mental Health America at a Capitol Hill news conference to announce the introduction of HR 3060, the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Treatment Programs for Teens Act.
“Too often, these young people are sent away to these institutions where they are often abused, denied food and water, sexually assaulted, and sometimes sent away simply for being LGBT,” said the Center’s Director of Policy & Community Building Dave Garcia. “This legislation will protect these young people just as they would in any group home throughout the state of California. No child should be abused at the hands of adults, and no religion should be used as an excuse to abuse a young person.”
Article originally appeared on Vanguardnow.org