Governor Brown Signs California Bill Co-Sponsored by the Center to Regulate Residential Programs Notorious for Abusing, Attempting to “Convert” LGBT Youth - Los Angeles LGBT Center

Governor Brown Signs California Bill Co-Sponsored by the Center to Regulate Residential Programs Notorious for Abusing, Attempting to “Convert” LGBT Youth

September 30, 2016
Contact: Gil Diaz
323-993-7622

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.

“Today is a victory for the protection of our children,” said Senator Lara. “Many facilities or camps that claim to help children are causing irreparable harm. With this bill we will provide oversight for these facilities to ensure that no child is the victim of psychological or physical abuse at the hands of adults they are told to trust."

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."

About the Los Angeles LGBT Center

Since 1969 the Los Angeles LGBT Center has cared for, championed, and celebrated LGBT individuals and families in Los Angeles and beyond. Today the Center's nearly 800 employees provide services for more LGBT people than any other organization in the world, offering programs, services, and global advocacy that span four broad categories: Health, Social Services and Housing, Culture and Education, Leadership and Advocacy. We are an unstoppable force in the fight against bigotry and the struggle to build a better world; a world in which LGBT people thrive as healthy, equal, and complete members of society. Learn more at lalgbtcenter.org.

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