CAMDEN, N.J. (CN) - Parents sued Gov. Chris Christie in Federal Court, claiming a New Jersey law prohibits them from getting their teenage son counseling to fight his homosexual attractions.
John Doe, 15, and his parents Jane and Jack Doe, sued Christie to challenge the constitutionality of Assembly Bill 3371, which the governor signed in August.
A3371 protects minors from attempts to change their sexual orientation.
The lawsuit states: "When John Doe was around five years old, Jack and Jane Doe noticed that he had started to play with female dolls and toys, and Jane Doe noticed that he was particularly obsessed with Ariel from 'The Little Mermaid.'
"Jack and Jane Doe frequently noticed that John Doe would sketch pictures of Ariel on any scrap piece of paper he could find, and Jane Doe noticed that he spent many long hours drawing, which her husband did not like.
"On numerous occasions, Jane Doe witnessed her husband become frustrated with John Doe because he was not behaving like a typical male, and she had a number of arguments with Jack Doe because of his statements to John Doe criticizing him for exhibiting female characteristics, expressions, and mannerisms.
"When John Doe was 10 years old, the Doe family was visiting a friend's house and Jane Doe witnessed her son removing all of his clothes and trying to dress up in princess clothes."
The parents claim their son "began experiencing gender identity disorder when he was around nine years old, and he remembers having a bias against the male gender and thinking that boys were stupid because his mother talked negatively about his father."
He began secretly shaving his armpits and pubic hair and changed his mannerisms in an effort to appear more feminine, according to the complaint. When he was 12 or 13, his parents say, he began to feel same-sex attractions toward males and became suicidal.
His parents say they sought a Catholic counselor for him. That effort failed when the counselor "did not seem to share the same scholarly view of the issues surrounding SOCE [sex orientation change efforts] counseling as many experts in the field," according to the lawsuit.
"Jack and Jane Doe's concern over the psychological and physical well-being of John Doe reached its peak when the Does took a trip to Myrtle Beach two years ago," the complaint states.
"On that trip, Jane and Jack Doe discovered that their son had shaved his body hair, including his armpits, they witnessed him flush his underwear down the toilet and witnessed their son try to commit suicide by jumping off of the balcony of their hotel room.
"When the Does returned home, Jack and Jane Doe found various pornographic pictures and illustrations of men in graphic sexual positions under his mattress, and they realized that their son was having significant psychological and emotional distress over his gender confusion and unwanted same-sex attractions."
The parents say they contacted the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality and were referred to a licensed metal health professional who specialized in sexual orientation change efforts.
The counselor helped their son realize that his unwanted attractions and gender identity stemmed from unfulfilled childhood needs and lack of positive attention from his father, according to the complaint.
Since that counseling began, the Does claim, the boy's same-sex attractions have been reduced from 8 out of 10 to 3 out of 10, he no longer has suicidal thoughts and he no longer tries to make his voice higher to talk like a girl.
But with A3371 signed into law, the Does claim, their son could regress and regain his homosexual feelings and gender identity issues.
They seek an injunction preventing enforcement of A3371, and want the law declared unconstitutional, for violating freedom of speech, freedom of religion and fundamental parental rights.
They are represented by Demetrios Stratis, of Lynchburg, Va.
According to the lawsuit: "Section 2(a) of A3371 states:
"'A person who is licensed to provide professional counseling under Title 45 of the Revised Statutes, including, but not limited to, a psychiatrist, licensed practicing psychologist, certified social worker, licensed clinical social worker, licensed social worker, licensed marriage and family therapist, certified psychoanalyst, or a person who performs counseling as part of the person's professional training for any of these professions, shall not engage in sexual orientation change efforts with a person under 18 years of age.'
"Section 2(b) of A3371 states:
"'"[S]exual orientation change efforts" means the practice of seeking to change a person's sexual orientation, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors, gender identity, or gender expressions, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward a person of the same gender; except that sexual orientation change efforts shall not include counseling for a person seeking to transition from one gender to another, or counseling that:
"'(1) provides acceptance, support, and understanding of a person or facilitates a person's coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices; and
"'(2) does not seek to change sexual orientation.'"
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