Today, HRC celebrated a vote by the Massachusetts House of Representatives to pass bipartisan legislation protecting LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” The bill will now head to the Massachusetts Senate. If enacted, Massachusetts would become the 16th state in the U.S. to protect youth from this egregious practice.
“Conversion therapy has been debunked and condemned by all major medical and mental health organizations; we should call this practice what it is: child abuse,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “No child should have to endure such a painful and life-threatening experience, and we applaud the Massachusetts House of Representatives for taking such decisive action to protect LGBTQ youth. Now, it is critical for the Massachusetts Senate to quickly pass these bipartisan protections so they can make their way to the Governor.”
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, New Hampshire and Delaware all have laws protecting youth from this abusive 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), the Trevor Project, MassEquality 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.