Yesterday, the Vermont legislature passed a bill that will protect LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practices of so-called “conversion therapy.” Senator Brian Campion, Senator Claire Ayer and Representative Ann Pugh advocated for Senate Bill 132, which prohibits licensed mental health providers from providing “conversion therapy” to individuals below the age of eighteen. The bill now heads to Governor Peter Shumlin, who is expected to sign it into law. Once signed, the law will go into effect in July of 2017, making Vermont the sixth jurisdiction to enact a law protecting youth from “conversion therapy.”
California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington, D.C. currently have laws that protect LGBTQ minors from “conversion therapy” and more than 20 states introduced similar legislation this year. Following an executive action from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, New York is also adopting regulations to protect youth from “conversion therapy.”
In February, HRC, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a historic federal consumer fraud complaint against a major provider of “conversion therapy,” urging the Federal Trade Commission to take enforcement action against the organization and all practitioners engaging in similar fraudulent advertising and business practices.
“Conversion therapy,” sometimes referred to as “sexual orientation change efforts” or “reparative therapy,” is a range of practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. These practices are based on the false premise that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that needs to be cured, a theory that has been rejected by every major medical and mental health organization for decades.
There is no credible evidence that “conversion therapy” can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people. Use of these dangerous practices lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior, which is why they are universally criticized by the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Medical Association.
NCLR and HRC have partnered with state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation to end this dangerous practice.