He is 14, the son of a Muslim father and a Catholic mother, and is being raised in a household where the family rejects the notion that it is all right to be gay.
Sometime last spring, the boy approached his parents with a problem.
"He said, 'I'm confused about whether I like boys or girls,' " the father explained in court papers. " 'I think I like both.' "
That "confusion" sent the parents in search of answers to the father's mosque, books about the issue and the Internet.
"We raised our children in a mixed-faith household, and all of our children believe in and love God," the father said in court documents. "Homosexuality is inconsistent with both of our religions, and is against the faith of our children."
The family's dilemma and ones like it are the focus of two lawsuits in Sacramento federal court seeking to stop a new law from taking effect Jan. 1 in California.
The law, Senate Bill 1172 by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, would ban the use of controversial "gay conversion" therapies on minors such as the 14-year-old, who is identified in court papers only as "John Doe 2."
It is the only law of its kind in the nation, and the legal challenges could become landmark litigation. So far, two judges hearing the cases separately have declined to prevent the law from taking effect, but plaintiffs in one of the suits have moved to appeal their case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The legal fight comes at a pivotal moment in the nation's debate over gay rights. The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month agreed to review the legality of California's ban on same-sex marriage in a case that will have national implications.
California's "gay-conversion" law is aimed at a much more limited population: licensed mental health providers who work with youths under age 18 with the goal of combating their attraction to people of the same sex.
The therapies, referred to as "sexual orientation change efforts" by their practitioners, have been roundly denounced by mental health groups and gay advocacy organizations.
The practice "has been rejected by every leading mainstream mental health association as ineffective and dangerous," according to legal filings from Equality California, which pushed for passage of the law and serves as an advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
"Minors are committing suicide after being told they have something wrong with them, being told that if they try hard enough they can change it if they follow these practices, like taking showers with their father," Michelle Friedland, a San Francisco attorney representing Equality California, argued in court earlier this month.
"When it doesn't work, they get depressed and they feel like their doctor has told them there is something wrong with them, and their parents have sent them to a doctor licensed by the state who supposedly is telling them that there is something wrong with them, and it causes depression and suicide. That is the problem that the state is trying to solve here."
But at least some individuals who have experienced the therapy, both as minors and adults, insist it works and helped them carve out heterosexual lives.
"It's almost completely eradicated shame from my life," said Aaron Bitzer, 36, a Culver City man who says he has undergone sessions of what is called "reparative therapy" to counteract his attraction to men. "It's brought about a lot of benefits in my life."