Local Legislation Often A Disgrace to Massage Therapy

I usually report on state legislation, but the fact of the matter is, educating legislators about massage therapy has to begin in your own backyard. In many places, whether there is state regulation of massage or not, local laws are so archaic and penalizing to massage therapists, it is just disgusting.

The latest thing to hit my radar is from the city of Indianapolis. The application required to practice massage in the city is entitled “Application for Massage Therapist/Escort/Body Painting/Nude Model License.”

I am shocked and appalled that this still exists. Where are the massage therapists who should be up in arms about this? Is everyone so complacent they just fill it out and don’t complain? Has anyone ever brought it up to the city government? Have any of our professional associations seized this opportunity to protect the rights of massage therapists?

A few years ago in the small town of Canton, NC, one of my former students excitedly opened her massage therapy practice, and within two days was cited for “massaging a member of the opposite sex.” She had no idea her hometown was a throwback to the Dark Ages, and she wasn’t going to take it lying down. She printed off copies of our Practice Act for every member of the town council, and got herself put on the agenda for the meeting, where she proceeded to enlighten them about the realities of being a professional therapist. The end result was the repeal of an ordinance that was enacted back in the 50’s in an effort to thwart illegal “massage parlors.”

I hope that the massage therapists in Indianapolis will take a lesson and rise up to do something about this. Unfortunately, it isn’t the only place where idiocy like this is perpetuated. After I posted this on my FB page, therapists started coming out of the woodwork with their own stories of unfair local laws. …locales requiring massage therapists to take tests for sexually transmitted diseases, applications that still say “Massage Parlor” and all manner of derogatory and unfair laws aimed at us.  All I can say is what I’ve been saying for the past few years: Don’t wait for someone else to do something about it. Take the initiative and get the ball rolling. Call your colleagues and ask them to appear with you at a town council meeting. Write letters and call your local legislators. Don’t sit on your hands. If we don’t educate legislators, nobody will.


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