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Today, HRC celebrated the signing of SB 65 — legislation protecting Delaware’s LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and debunked practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” With Governor John Carney’s signature, Delaware joins the growing number of states and municipalities adopting critical protections for LGBTQ youth. Just this year, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii and New Hampshire have also enacted these protections.

Delaware is now the 15th state plus Washington, DC to enact laws or regulations protection LGBTQ youth from the dangerous practice. More than forty municipalities have also passed similar protections.

“So-called ‘conversion therapy’ is dangerous, cruel and uniformly rejected by every major mental health and child welfare organization,” said HRC National Press Secretary Sarah McBride, a Delawarean. “Today’s signing is a critical step forward in the fight to ensure that Delaware is a safe and affirming state for all LGBTQ youth, and we hope that the values and progress reflected in this law guide the ongoing conversation in Delaware about protecting LGBTQ students from discrimination. We are grateful to the many advocates, allies, parents, and survivors who spoke out against this abusive practice, Senator Harris McDowell and Representative Debra Heffernan for their leadership in the legislature, and Governor Carney for signing this important bill into law.”

“This bill sends an important message that a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity is neither capable of being changed nor does it need to be changed, and efforts to try to do so in the name of therapy have no place in our State,” said Mark Purpura, a board member of Equality Delaware. “Instead, we should strive to understand and support each child’s unique personal identity to better empower them to thrive in school, at home, and in our community.  Equality Delaware is thankful for the leadership of Senator Harris McDowell and Representative Debra Heffernan and their legislative aides, the other co-sponsors of this bill, and Governor Carney for signing it into law today.”        

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 such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior. The harmful practice is condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Medical Association.

Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, New Hampshire and now Delaware all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice. A growing number of municipalities have also enacted similar protections, including cities and counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, Florida, New York, Arizona, and Wisconsin.

According to a recent report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, an estimated 20,000 LGBTQ minors in states without protections will be subjected to conversion therapy by a licensed healthcare professional if state officials fail to act.

HRC has partnered with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation ending conversion therapy. More information on the lies and dangers of efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity can be found here.


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