This Is Bad News for Faith-Based Counselors

On Monday, we were elated to watch the Senate pass SB 1778 patroned by Senator Steve Newman (R-Bedford) – a critically important bill to protect the free speech and religious exercise rights of counselors – only to see Senator Jill Vogel (R-Fauquier) on Tuesday make a motion to bring the bill back up on the Senate floor and kill it. 

And just like that, a historic win for religious liberty became a devastating loss. 

The bill would have added clear protections for the free speech and religious liberty of licensed counselors (many of whom are pastors) in helping minors work through and overcome unwanted feelings or confusion about their sexuality – or, what some have labeled “conversion therapy.” The need for this legislation became urgent in light of recent announcements from five state regulatory boards of their intent to promulgate regulations to prohibit all such counseling efforts. (despite the fact that they have received ZERO complaints over such counseling EVER) 

The major problem the bill sought to address is that, under the announced regulations, counselors will be prohibited from even engaging in talk therapy to assist a young person in overcoming same-sex attractions or gender identity disorders and to instead embrace God’s natural design for human sexuality. This effort is part of an insidious national movement to convince young people that: “There is nothing wrong with you. You cannot overcome your struggles and temptations. You must be defined by them. There is no hope for change, and seeking help to do so would only harm you.” For Christians, we understand this for what it is: A direct attack on the Gospel itself. 

“This hits at the core of our values,” said Senator Steve Newman. “Are we fine with Christians, Jews, and Muslims being forced by this state into being an advocate for the LGBT movement or lose their professional license?” 

Throughout the entire process, Senator Newman was a true champion for the fundamental rights of all licensed professionals, and especially faith-based counselors who hold to the historic, natural, and Biblical view of the nature of male and female. (Watch Senator Newman’s phenomenal testimony in the subcommittee hearing.) Now our culture, plagued by the fallout of the Sexual Revolution, appears to be experiencing a contagion of young people declaring themselves to be homosexual or “transgendered.” These counselors who are willing to help kids align their often-volatile feelings with biological and moral realities are needed more than ever. Unfortunately, this bill's effort to ensure those opportunities for counselors and kids was thwarted at the last moment, but we will continue to fight and keep you updated as this battle develops.  

Please Click HERE to thank Senator Newman and those who voted for this important legislation.

Please also consider reaching out to Senator Jill Vogel to express your disappointment of her defeating the bill, after initially voting for it, and urge her to fight for the rights of counselors and kids who need professional guidance to address serious struggles. Her email address is district27@senate.virginia.gov, and her Capitol office phone number is (804) 698-7527.