Ever hear of C-Street, AKA Christopher Street Chemical Dependency Program?
Few remember or have even heard of this pioneering GLBT chemical dependency program that existed in Minneapolis from the late 70s to the early 80s. And fewer still know how it was hunted down by prosecuters, run out of business, and it director sent to jail for supposedly billing the government and insurance companies for 22 instances of counseling that wasn't delivered by licensed therapists.
A little background is in order... Back in the 70s the GLBT movement and chemical dependency movement rapidly grew in tandem in Minnesota. At the same time, state hospitals for the mentally ill were closing and community clinics rapidly tried to keep up with the demand for community based mental health services for the newly liberated mentally ill. It was a heady time, and this all happened too fast for regulatory agencies to keep up.
By the early 70s there was a whole horde of GLBT AA groups in Minnesota, to the point that they had their own GLBT Alano type meeting place. Minneapolis Community College, located in Minneapolis' Loring Park "gay ghetto", struggled to train chemical dependency counselors fast enough to staff the new chemical dependency programs.
Out of this sobriety revolution rose Christopher Street, funded partly by government grants. Christopher Street unfortunately was swept into the whirlwind of lesbian seperatism popular at the time, and broke into what were essentially seperate outpatient treatment programs for men and women, with trans folks barred from the womens program. As a local trans counselor at the time, their was thus no love lost between me and the womens program, though the mens program was quite friendly to the trans community. But trans women shouldn't have to attend a men's program to get sober.
Ultimately the government funding ran out and IIRC the men's program was the first to close. The womens program hung on, dependent on client fees and insurance and government reinbursment. By the 80s the political scene had shifted to the right and there was little hope of future funding. Worse yet, state investigators went over Christopher Street's records with a fine tooth comb. When they were done, they charged the director with 15 counts of filling fraudulent claims, alleging that the counseling had not been done by properly licensed or supervised counselors.
Yep, felony criminal charges... For billings that probably didn't exceed $10,000! The current republican governor of Florida's hospitals were convicted of bilking the government out of hundreds of millions via phony charges, and he's a free man. What's wrong with this picture?
Anti-Gay bias delivered by abuse of government authority, that's what!
The director plea bargained the 15 counts down to 6. The judge, perhaps sensing the unfairness of the charges, departed downward from the sentencing guidelines and handed down a 6 month sentence rather than the 22 month sentence the guidelines called for. The state, at their homophobic worst, appealed the downward deviation in sentencing and lost.
The "crime" Christopher Street had committed was being committed by virtually every community clinic operating at the time. In this period of rapid growth in the counseling professions, colleges couldn't produce trained counselors fast enough. Government professional regulatory boards couldn't keep up either, rewriting their standards for licensure so fast that counselling agencies couldn't keep up. To give you an example, in my position as a trans counselor I worked for a now defunct GLBT social services agency. I was an undergrad psych student at the time, with no licensure. IIRC, my salary was funded by a college work study program and our biggest claim to conventional legitimacy was that our office space was donated by a large hospital, whose behavioral health programs often referred clients to us. IIRC our director had a degree as a Counseling Psychologist and one of our Board members and staffers was a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. We may have been violating the strict letter of the law, but so was everybody else, and the law usually recognized the shortage of counselors and didn't bother us. To further confuse matters, I later found out that I was eligible for licensure as a Clinical Social Worker, but didn't know it.
So while counseling agencies high and low were ignored, a pioneering GLBT counseling agency was persecuted and it's director imprisoned. I want to see Christopher Street, it's wrongly imprisoned director, and Minneapolis pioneering gay & sober community avenged. I demand, and we all need to demand, that the Bachmann's "counseling" corporation be investigated and it's crimes prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law!