Today, HRC praised a new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) which makes “clear that conversion therapy is not an appropriate therapeutic approach based on the evidence, and explores alternative ways to discuss sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression with young people.”
“Conversion therapy is child abuse, and the Obama Administration has joined our call to ban its practice once and for all,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “This is dangerous junk science that uses fear and shame to tell young people the only way to find love and acceptance is by changing the very nature of who they are. Today’s new health report shows the extensive damage that so-called conversion therapy can cause and why it’s so urgent that we end it in all fifty states.”
Conversion therapy – a discredited practice that falsely claims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity – has been denounced by every mainstream medical and mental health association, including the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association. This new report is based on consensus findings by leading experts, researchers, and practitioners in the fields of child and adolescent mental health, family therapy, ethics, and the psychology of religion that make clear that conversion therapy is not an appropriate or responsible practice.
HRC and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) have partnered with state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation to end this dangerous practice, including the laws passed in California, New Jersey, Oregon, the District of Columbia, and most recently in Illinois. In August of 2013, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld California’s law, which was signed into law by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown in 2012. On May 4, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision to uphold New Jersey’s law, which was signed by Republican Governor Chris Christie in August of 2013. NCLR attorneys have assisted in the defense of every state bill to date.
In April, the White House called for an end to the dangerous practice of conversion therapy. In May, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-CA) introduced the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act – the first federal legislation to prohibit the practice of providing conversion therapy to any person in exchange for monetary compensation or advertising such services.