A presentation delivered to staff and graduate students at the University of Hawaii Center for Cognitive Behavior Therapy by employees of the Hawaii Department of Health has caused controversy. Titled “Affirming practice with LGBTQ+ youth,” the training urges therapists not to document their conversations with LGBTQ+ youth to keep parents unaware of their child’s sexual identity.
Obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the presentation has sparked debate over confidentiality and the rights of minors.
Cautions on Documenting Conversations and Age of Consent
One slide in the presentation advises therapists to be cautious about what they document, as parents may potentially access the information. Another slide highlights the age of consent for mental health services in Hawaii for youth aged 14 and older, emphasizing that LGBTQ+ youth should decide when and to whom they disclose their orientation or identity.
The presentation advocates that being LGBTQ+ is not a safety risk, but coming out could be.
The Role of Safe Spaces Committee and LGBTQ+ Affirming Mental Health Care
The presentation was conducted by members of the Hawaii Department of Health’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division’s Safe Spaces Committee, which aims to create an LGBTQ+ affirming system of mental health care for youth. It encourages therapists to be aware that some individuals may not have support at home, even in a more liberal and affirming state.
Self-Reflection on Gender Roles and Privilege
The presentation also encourages self-reflection among therapists regarding their own perspectives on gender roles and sexuality. It asks therapists to examine their beliefs and privileges and how they can support marginalized individuals. The session addresses various types of prejudice, including heterosexism, cissexism, homophobia, transphobia, and micro-aggressions.
Controversial Definitions and Links
The presentation includes the definition of “minority stress,” which refers to additional stressors experienced by stigmatized minority groups. It also touches on the intersectionality of minority stress experienced by sexual and gender minority individuals due to racism, xenophobia, and discrimination based on other minority statuses.
The presentation concludes by providing links to the department’s LGBTQ Safe Spaces website, which includes videos advocating for biological males to play girls’ sports and information on gender transition through hormone therapy.
Calls for Transparency and Further Investigation
Some critics argue that the presentation raises concerns about the extent of parental involvement and whether the rights of parents are being respected. As debates unfold, there are calls for transparency in the handling of such cases and discussions about the rights and well-being of LGBTQ+ youth, their families, and therapists.