HRC along with FreeState Justice, a legal advocacy organization that seeks to improve the lives of LGBTQ Marylanders, and WISE praised the Maryland State Senate for passing SB1028 — legislation protecting LGBTQ youth in the state from the dangerous and debunked practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” The bill now goes to the Maryland House of Delegates for consideration.
“We thank the state senators who voted to protect LGBTQ youth from so-called ‘conversion therapy,’” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “This abusive and inhumane practice has no basis in science and is uniformly rejected by every major mental health organization in the country. We are calling on the Maryland House of Delegates to swiftly pass this bill and send it to Governor Larry Hogan’s desk for his signature.”
“This is a step forward for an important piece of legislation that protects LGBTQ youth from harmful and coercive practices,” said FreeState Justice Executive Director Mark Procopio. “We hope the House of Delegates will move quickly to make this law. Maryland’s LGBTQ youth deserve strong protections under state law. Prohibiting these practices moves us closer to that goal.”
SB1028 was introduced in the Maryland State Senate by Senator Richard Madaleno and cosponsors include Senator Bill Ferguson, Senator Guy Guzzone, Senator Cheryl Kagan, Senator Susan Lee, Senator Roger Manno, Senator Paul Pinsky, Senator Craig Zucker, Senator Will Smith, and Senator Ronald Young.
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 passed laws or enacted regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice. A growing number of municipalities have also passed 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.