Today, HRC celebrated a vote by the Maine House of Representatives to pass L.D. 1025. This bill protects LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” Now, the bill goes to the Maine Senate. If enacted, Maine would become the 17th state in the U.S. to protect youth from this egregious practice. Colorado recently passed a similar bill through its legislature; it is soon heading to the governor’s desk. Recently, Minnesota passed a measure through the House that would also protect youth from conversion therapy.
“It is heartening to see the Maine House of Representatives stand up for LGBTQ youth by passing this critical legislation that will protect some of the most vulnerable Mainers from an extremely damaging practice,” said Xavier Persad, senior legislative counsel at the Human Rights Campaign. “So-called ‘conversion therapy’ is a harmful, debunked practice that has no place in Maine or anywhere else. We’re grateful to Equality Maine and Rep. Ryan Fecteau for their leadership in ensuring this bill passed through the House with strong bipartisan support. Now, the Senate should act quickly to pass this legislation and send it to the governor’s desk.”
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, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia all have laws protecting youth from this abusive practice. Puerto Rico’s Governor recently issued an executive order protecting minors in the commonwealth from the harmful practice. A growing number of municipalities have also enacted similar protections, including at least fifty 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. Last year, national organizations representing millions of licensed medical and mental health care professionals, educators, and child welfare advocates declared their support for legislative protections against conversion therapy.
HRC has partnered with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), EqualityMaine and local advocates in support of these vital protections. More information on the lies and dangers of efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity can be found here.