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Oklahoma Legislature Puts Parental and Family Rights Over Politics with HB 1598
First Stone Ministries Applauds Parental and Family Rights in Counseling Protection Act

Contact: Marci Moyer, Administrative Assistant to Stephen Black, First Stone Ministries, 405-236-4673, media@firststone.org

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., Feb. 23, 2015 /Standard Newswire/ -- First Stone Ministries applauds Rep. Sally Kern and Sen. Josh Brecheen for introducing HB 1598, the Parental and Family Rights in Counseling Protection Act, to protect the right of parents and families to seek counseling from a mental health provider and/or faith-based counselor to overcome unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA) and/or sexual/gender identity confusion.

"This is a big step for parental rights and religious liberty for Oklahoma families, especially those who struggle with sexual and gender identity confusion," said Stephen Black, Executive Director of First Stone Ministries in Oklahoma City. "This bill protects the freedom of individuals to seek help from mental health providers and faith-based counselors for support, spiritual direction, and pastoral care and counseling. We urge all Oklahoma legislators to support this landmark legislation − the first of its kind in the nation − to send a clear message that in Oklahoma, parents have the ultimate right to make decisions for their children's and family's mental, emotional, and spiritual health."

HB 1598 protects Oklahoma mental health providers, including faith-based counselors, who offer counseling, psychotherapy, and/or spiritual direction to minors who seek to reduce or eliminate unwanted homosexual feelings and/or gender identity confusion. The bill includes a provision to ensure parents and families who seek counseling are not subjected to aversion therapy. The therapy, though rarely-used, is considered harmful and ethically unsound for counseling sexual identity/orientation/gender issues.

"Oklahoma Children and their families should be provided with ethical, safe, and effective support to overcome conflicts surrounding their sexual identity/orientation and their spirituality," said Black, "I especially want the confused victims of childhood sexual abuse to find resolve and comfort through counseling, just as I did. We are extremely grateful to Rep. Kern's and Sen. Brecheen's desire to protect vulnerable youth from any questionable or unsafe therapeutic practices, while still maintaining the religious freedom, civil liberties and the right of self-determination of children and families to receive counseling."

First Stone Ministries (FSM) is located in Oklahoma City and is a nondenominational ministry, founded in 1976. FSM offers several Christ-centered services for spiritual direction, see www.firststone.org for more information.