HRC is proud to have joined advocates from FreeState Justice to advocate for two important pieces of proposed legislation that seek to protect LGBTQ youth across Maryland. FreeState Justice brought together LGBTQ advocates from across Maryland to lobby in Annapolis in support of the Youth Mental Health Protection Act and the Ending Youth Homelessness Act of 2018.

The Youth Mental Health Protection Act (HB 902 / SB 1028) would establish important safeguards to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” Both chambers of the Maryland legislature continue to consider this critical legislation.

“As a native of the Baltimore area, who grew up in a deeply conservative environment, the fear of being placed into conversion therapy was something I struggled with during my coming out experience,” said Ryan Wilson, HRC Associate Regional Field Director. “My work at HRC to support FreeState Justice is a way for me to give back to the state where I was raised and help protect future generations of Maryland LGBTQ youth from the discredited practice of conversion therapy.”

Earlier this month, HRC legislative counsel Xavier Persad joined mental health experts, legislative sponsors and advocates from Free State Justice, the ACLU of Maryland and numerous medical and mental health organizations to testify in support of both bills.

The Ending Youth Homelessness Act of 2018 (HB 1224 / SB 1218) seeks to establish a grant program to support homeless youth, addressing the overrepresentation of LGBTQ youth and youth of color experiencing homelessness. Approximately 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as LGBTQ.

“Some of Maryland’s biggest gaps in laws and policies protecting LGBTQ people are those protecting youth,” said Mark Procopio, executive director of FreeState Justice. “Better addressing youth experiencing homelessness and prohibiting the harmful practices of conversion therapy on minors are two important steps in shoring up these protections.  We want to make sure kids growing up in Maryland are welcomed and affirmed.”

Find out how you can get involved with HRC to support LGBTQ youth in Maryland by clicking here 

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