VoterVoice Post

Take action now: Protect parental rights and religious freedom in the counseling of children

May 13, 2019 by Jeff Caruso

Your voice is needed; stand up for parental rights!


Last month we wrote to you about a proposal to ban licensed counselors from providing reparative or “conversion” therapy to children. Reparative therapy is talk therapy used by the counseling profession to help children or adults work through struggles with unwanted same-sex or mixed-sexual attractions.

Legislative attempts to ban reparative therapy in Virginia failed in 2016 and 2018. The Virginia Catholic Conference opposed these attempts and highlighted the adverse impact a ban would have on parental rights and religious freedom.

Because the General Assembly has not adopted their view, ban proponents are now seeking to impose a ban through regulation. Several state licensing boards are trying to bypass the General Assembly altogether, which has the effect of diluting your voice in Richmond. The latest is the Board of Social Work, which like those of Psychology and Counseling, is proposing a regulatory ban. They need to hear from you today because:
  • Parents are closest to their child’s challenges and they are in the best position to identify solutions and to make healthcare decisions involving the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of their child.

  • Under Virginia law, parents have the fundamental right to make decisions regarding the upbringing, education and care of their children.

  • Some young people may have attractions they desire to change or moderate. Others may simply desire guidance from a social worker to live a chaste life. In either instance, there should be options for families to make informed decisions.

  • A ban would deny families the religious freedom to seek counseling aligned with their faith.

  • Because the proposed definition and ban cover all communication between a social worker and the client, there is a serious risk that children and families will lose the right to client “self-determination” in setting care goals (a core principle of the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics).
Take action to protect the freedom of Virginia families to acquire the counseling they choose. Join the Virginia Catholic Conference in opposing the Board of Social Work’s misguided and unconstitutional proposal. Click here to enter a comment on the website. We encourage you to use one or more of the talking points provided above. Comments must be posted online no later than 11:59 pm on May 14.
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In prayer and in public, your voices are urgently needed to bring Gospel values to bear on vital decisions being made by those who represent you.
The Virginia Catholic Conference is the public policy agency representing Virginia’s Catholic bishops and their two dioceses.