Today, HRC hailed the Maine Legislature’s passage of bipartisan legislation to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” With a final version approved today by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, the measure now heads to Governor Paul LePage for consideration. If signed or allowed to become law by the governor, Maine would join 14 other states plus the District of Columbia with laws or regulations protecting LGBTQ youth from the dangerous practice.
“This critically important legislation will help ensure children in Maine are not subjected to a practice that amounts to nothing less than child abuse,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “It’s now imperative that fair-minded people across the state contact Governor LePage’s office and urge him to sign this bill protecting LGBTQ youth or allow it to become law. Other Republican governors across the country — including most recently in neighboring New Hampshire — have signed similar bipartisan legislation, and it’s vital for Maine’s LGBTQ youth that Governor LePage does the same.”
“We are pleased that both chambers of the legislature have finally passed these needed protections for LGBTQ youth in Maine,” said Equality Maine Executive Director Matt Moonen. “We call upon the governor not to veto this needed bill that can save lives.”
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, and New Hampshire all now 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 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. In Maine, HRC is working closely with NCLR, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and Equality Maine in the effort. More information on the lies and dangers of efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity can be found here.