Today, HRC praised a vote by the Maine House of Representatives passing legislation to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” The critically important legislation now heads to the Maine Senate for consideration.
“No child should be subjected to this dangerous practice with life-threatening consequences for countless LGBTQ youth,” said HRC Legislative Counsel Xavier Persad. “For the sake of LGBTQ youth across the state, it’s essential that fair-minded voices speak out now and call on their state senators to pass this crucially important legislation. We urge the Maine Senate to pass this measure and join the growing number of states and municipalities that protect LGBTQ youth from the inhumane and abusive practice of conversion therapy.”
“The legislature has a responsibility to protect young people, who are especially vulnerable, from these medically condemned practices,” said Representative Ryan Fecteau (D-Biddeford) on the House floor. “The legislature must mitigate exposing children to this harm, to this hurt, and to this rejection of their innate, genuine selves."
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, and Washington 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. The Maryland state legislature recently passed these protections and the measure is awaiting consideration by the governor. Additionally, the Hawaii state legislature passed similar legislation this week, which heads to conference committee before moving to the governor’s office.
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 lawmakers 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.