Post submitted by Stephen Peters, former Senior National Press Secretary and Spokesperson
Today, HRC hailed a vote of 137 to 14 by the Massachusetts House of Representatives passing bipartisan legislation to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of “conversion therapy.” The measure now heads to the Massachusetts Senate for consideration.
“No child should be subjected to this abusive practice that has been condemned by every major medical and mental health organization,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree on these critically important protections for Massachusetts’ LGBTQ youth. We urge the Massachusetts Senate to swiftly pass this bipartisan legislation and send it 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, and New Hampshire all now have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice. Similar legislation is currently awaiting gubernatorial action in the states of Delaware and Maine. 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 Massachusetts, HRC is working with MassEquality, local advocates, and the Trevor Project to ensure that this bill becomes law. More information on the lies and dangers of efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity can be found here.