Controversial residential programs in California that claim to help troubled youth – including those who are LGBT – will now be regulated under a new state law.
California Governor Jerry Brown on Friday (30 September) signed into law SB 524 – also known as the Protecting Youth from Institutional Abuse Act.
Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean says the new law will save youth ‘from harm and even death.’
‘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,’ Jean says.
California becomes one of the few states in the US to regulate the so-called ‘troubled teen’ industry and it is seen as crucial that its new law does not exempt religious-based businesses.
‘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,”‘ says Jean.
The bill was sponsored by The LA LGBT Center and Survivors of Institutional Abuse (SIA) and was introduced by State Senator Ricardo Lara.
‘As a survivor of institutional abuse, I have been waiting 20 years for California to regulate these programs,’ says SIA President Jodi Hobbs.
‘Too many kids have died or killed themselves because of what they experienced. Those who survive often suffer life-long trauma.’
There is also a legislative effort to regulate these programs in a national level through a federal bill introduced last year in the US House of Representatives by Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Florida.
SIA has reported the deaths of more than 300 people who are linked to these programs.
Since it is common for these programs to re-open in another state under a different name after they are forced to close, federal legislation is considered essential.