Qigong is under attack, and we need your help — especially if you live in Massachusetts.
Even if you don’t live in Massachusetts, if you live in the US then it’s worth getting involved because this attack could have broad consequences for qigong in other states.
I’ll try to make this blog post as clear as possible and break down the issues as I understand them.
S.168 “An Act Regulating Bodyworks” is a bill presented in Massachusetts by Senator Mark C. Montigny. Click here to read the bill.
Under the pretense of ending human trafficking, this bill broadly redefines over 200 holistic healing modalities, including qigong, as “bodywork”.
In other words, the government is trying to regulate qigong as a form of bodywork, ignoring the entire history of qigong as a self-healing art. In fact, the licensing will be regulated by people who don’t even know what qigong is!
If this bill passes:
- Qigong teachers in Massachusetts would need to get a professional BODYWORK license in order to continue teaching
- Thousands of healing businesses across the state will likely have to close their doors
- A small board of bodywork specialists will have jurisdiction over qigong teachers (and other holistic healing practitioners)
- I myself would not be allowed to teach in Massachusetts despite all my training and experience
Here’s a quote from Laura Kandziolka, a 30-year MA resident and Vice President of the National Qigong Association, that sums up the issue:
“Representatives from a large number of holistic disciplines are in agreement that this bill oversteps by imposing regulation on professions with no evidence that these professions are fronts for human trafficking.”
The Sex Trafficking Issue
Supporters of S.168 admit that it isn’t meant to control dangerous or problematic techniques used by health practitioners. Rather, it’s being presented to eliminate sex trafficking at illicit massage facilities.
In other words, this is NOT an issue about occupational licensing in qigong or other healing modalities. And yet, the effect is to create an umbrella occupational licensing system governed by bodyworkers who know nothing about qigong.
The legislators clearly don’t know what qigong actually is. If they did, then why aren’t they trying to regulate aerobics, tai chi, zumba, and cardio kickboxing?
In my experience, sex trafficking is used as an excuse to pass legislation that otherwise wouldn’t pass. After all, everyone is against sex trafficking, right? (To be clear — yes, we are!)
Unfortunately, this bill will do little or nothing about sex trafficking. It will, however, do a lot of damage to qigong teachers and other holistic healers.
Interestingly, a report done by the Polaris group, a leader in the global fight to eradicate sex trafficking, actually RECOMMENDS qigong as a “promising therapeutic support modality” for survivors of trafficking.
What’s Been Done So Far
This bill, formerly called SD1840, has several Change.org petitions standing in opposition, including one that I created and shared with you a few months ago.
Between the 3 petitions, there are over 28,000 signatures protesting the bill.
However, these signatures aren’t enough. Senators tend to ignore signatures like this UNLESS they also receive both written and oral testimony (see below).
The time for signing petitions has passed. The hearing is on Monday. Here’s what you can do.
What You Can Do (Massachusetts Residents)
If you live in Massachusetts, or you know someone who does, there is one VERY powerful thing that you can do:
ATTEND THE HEARING!!!
Non-residents can also attend, but we want to pack the room with MA residents. So please put it on your calendar right now.
If you attend, you can give an oral testimony to oppose S.168. You’re limited to 2 minutes, but that’s plenty of time.
Choose ONE of the issues listed below and talk about it from a PERSONAL perspective. It’s critical that you say why the issue is important to you and how it affects you, your family, your community, and/or your livelihood.
You can bring index cards or a script. You don’t have to memorize your speech.
What You Can Do (Non-Residents)
For those who don’t live in Massachusetts, and those who simply can’t attend the meeting, there’s still something you can do.
Please send an email to the committee. I know for a fact that written testimony will be seriously considered.
Again, it’s critical that you say why the issue is important to you and how it affects you, your family member, your community, and/or your livelihood.
This is extremely important. These personal stories resonate with legislators!
Choose 1 or 2 statements from the issues list below, then send your email.
You have 2 choices. You can either send your own email, or you can use this online form. However, if you use this form, it’s critical that you personalize your message.
Here are the email addresses of the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure:
You can also include the bill sponsors:
What You Can Do No Matter Where you Live
If you want to help with this issue, then please share this post — and soon. If you share it after Monday, then it won’t do any good.
Scroll down and look for the buttons to share this post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, or via email.
This is an easy way to get involved. You can share this post and spread the word with a few clicks. Do it now.
And if you know someone in Massachusetts — then PLEASE make sure to forward this to them.
List of Issues
- S.168 would arbitrarily and inaccurately redefine hundreds of holistic occupations (including qigong) as bodywork (i.e. massage therapy)
- The broad definition of bodywork affects more than 200 diverse disciplines and professions and many thousands of practitioners who now provide for their families working in this field. Many will be forced to close their doors, adversely impacting their households and their children.
- S.168 would reduce healing options for tens of thousands, thereby infringing on their freedom of choice
- The proposed board of massage therapy and bodyworkers only has 2 bodyworkers to represent more than 200 holistic professions
- You can only become licensed if you take courses at state licensed schools (regulated by the board of massage)
- There are no state licensed schools that offer training in qigong or many of the other disciplines
- The state does not have the expertise to set the curriculum for qigong.
- The 2 representative bodyworkers on the proposed board would not have the expertise to set the curriculum for qigong.
- This bill will take cause financial burdens and hardships to thousands and thousands of families, putting many citizens on unemployment
- Bodywork licensure is not a viable approach to addressing human trafficking: Contrary to the Massachusetts Interagency Human Trafficking Policy Task Force recommendations, S.168 seeks to reduce human trafficking supply through occupational licensure rather than reducing the demand for human trafficking through enforcement of existing “John laws” or the promulgation of sensible new laws.
- Occupational licensing has not been recommended in the Uniform Act on Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 2013; or by the US Department of State (see ’15 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking’}
- The National Human Trafficking database reports only 4 cases of human trafficking in Massachusetts at illicit massage spas. There is no accurate data on the number of human trafficking cases at illicit massage spas in MA as many counties combine prostitution cases with human trafficking cases when reporting data.
If I missed any issues, or if you have something to add to this topic, please post in the comments below and I will update this post accordingly.
Thanks for fighting the good fight! From the heart, Sifu Anthony