Ask Lambda Legal – College LGBT Centers Face Gay-Conversion Attacks

My university’s LGBT center was recently approached by a group that said that by law, it has to carry materials that promote “ex-gay therapy.” Is this true?
Thankfully, the short answer is no. The law does not require LGBT centers at universities or colleges to offer material on “converting” or “repairing” anyone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
This spring, Lambda Legal responded to an organized attack on this front against public universities throughout Virginia. We also provided legal information to staff members of LGBT centers nationwide who were approached by an organization that contended that campus LGBT centers had to carry ex-gay promotional material. The group argued that because the universities are public and receive government funds, the First Amendment requires that they must not engage in “viewpoint discriminatioan” by excluding ex-gay materials from the information they offer.
The truth is that the First Amendment’s important protections against viewpoint discrimination do not apply to this specific situation. LGBT centers at universities are not created as public forums where free speech rights apply.
It’s similar to college curricula. For example, a history class is not required to include material from Holocaust deniers to “balance out” factual accounts of the annihilation of Jews, gay people, disabled people, and others targeted in World War II concentration camps. LGBT centers at universities exist primarily to provide information and support for students on campus who identify as LGBT. They don’t have to display information on disproven or dangerous practices that don’t help or support LGBT people.
The leading medical and psychological associations in the United States have issued official statements against “conversion therapy,” noting that there is no proof that any therapy can change sexual orientation or gender identity or that any such practice benefits rather than risks harm to the people who receive it. Lambda Legal lists the organizations and their statements here: Lambda Legal.
Both California and New Jersey have outlawed “conversion therapy” for minors. These laws were celebrated across the country, but immediately – and unsuccessfully – challenged in court by those who think that people who are LGBT should be changed. Lambda Legal joined both cases as a friend-of-the-court on behalf of organizations working with LGBT youth. We urged the courts to uphold the laws prohibiting state-licensed mental health providers from using dangerous change efforts with minors.&nbsp

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