A copy of a letter sent to Senator Kehoe on behalf of the membership of the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, Inc., and a Call to represent LAGPA and the LGBTIQ community at a State Senate hearing on April 11, 2011.
LAGPA NEEDS YOU
STATE SENATE BILL 747
MANDATED LGBT CULTURAL COMPETENCY
Equality California and State Senator Christine Kehoe are sponsoring a bill to mandate LGBT cultural competency continuing education. On April 11, 2011, the state senate will hold a hearing to discuss the bill.
This is an historic event. LAGPA is convinced that this bill takes an essential step towards ending discrimination against LGBT people. This bill provides for additional education for those providing mental health care to LGBT people, their children and their families. Graduate school curricula are woefully inadequate in providing this education. Mandated continuing education in LGBT issues is our only hope.
Mental health practitioners in California are invited to speak for two minutes at the hearing. Is this something you want to do? If so, please contact your board, immediately.
March 31, 2011
The Honorable Christine Kehoe
State Capitol Building, Room 5050
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: SB 747 – LGBT Cultural Competency (Kehoe) - Sponsorship
Dear Senator Kehoe,
I am a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles, California for the last thirty-eight years. I am also copresident of the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association of Southern California (www.lagpa.org). LAGPA joins with me in sponsoring your bill, SB 747 LGBT Cultural Competency (Kehoe).
Founded in 1992, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association of Southern California, Inc. (LAGPA) is an organization of mental health professionals interested in the psychological well being of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender individuals. LAGPA provides a wide variety of activities designed to strengthen professional knowledge and competence in the provision of mental health services. LAGPA exists to join mental health professionals together for academic and social events, to provide educational community outreach, and to foster and promote a positive identity for members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Our current membership includes approximately 140 professionals and students, and we have a database of LGBT supportive psychotherapists of about 800.
SB 747 would require regulatory boards that license or certify health care personnel to require continuing education on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) cultural competency in health care. It would also authorize boards that certify and license medical and mental health professionals to grant continuing medical education (CME) credit, or equivalent credit, for LGBT health care cultural competency training.
As you know, Proposition 8 removed the right to marry from LGBT people. The various mental health disciplines are in a turmoil concerning LGBT rights. The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists refused to take a stand against this proposition. For LGBT people, this means that marriage and family therapists are against LGBT marriage. This does not encourage LGBT people to seek help from mental health practitioners in California; even though they may need this help.
Furthermore, the NASW took a position against Proposition 8 and contributed money. The LGBT community, as consumers, look for therapists and businesses that are LGBT friendly. In the case of seeking psychological services, LGBT consumers look for therapists who are either LGBT themselves, or LGBT informed. Therefore, we believe that in the midst of this psychosocial crisis, a readiness has emerged among mental health practitioners to be educated about LGBT issues and culture.
A mandated LGBT issues class would benefit both straight and LGBT therapists. Many straight therapists see LGBT clients. How can they do that without the fundamental knowledge of LGBT issues and culture? What does the only therapist in a small town in California do when an LGBT person presents themselves for help?
If the state legislature were to mandate a required LGBT issues class, such classes would soon proliferate throughout the state, and every therapist, in both large cities and small towns, could be easily informed.
You will be bringing both straight and LGBT therapists together in these classes. Together, they will openly learn and discuss LGBT issues. Think of the healing effect that this will have on both parties. Homophobia will be mollified on both sides.
This will embolden LGBT therapists. For some of them, who are closeted, they will be encouraged to step out, for the first time, and participate fully in their profession. What could be more harmful to an LGBT client than a closeted therapist?
LGBT culturally competent therapists benefit their clients and their communities by providing effective psychotherapy with LGBT people and their extended families. This improves relationships and lives and reduces mental health problems, relationship crises, and domestic violence.
The Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association (LAGPA) is convinced that your bill takes an essential step towards ending discrimination against LGBT people. Your bill provides for additional education for those providing mental health care to LGBT people, their children and their families. Graduate school curricula are woefully inadequate in providing this education. Mandated continuing education in LGBT issues is our only hope.
Very sincerely yours,
Bruce R. Watkins, Ph.D.
Rev. Alexander Yoo, M.Div., M.A.