Executive Order Issued in North Carolina Aimed at Protecting Youth From “Conversion Therapy"

by Nick Morrow

HRC praises an executive order issued in North Carolina adding some protections for youth from “conversion therapy.”

Today, HRC praises an executive order issued in North Carolina adding some protections for youth from the dangerous, debunked practice known as “conversion therapy.” The order prohibits the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services from using taxpayer funds on so-called “conversion therapy” for minors.

“The executive action, signed by Governor Cooper, restricting the use of public funds to support the dangerous, debunked practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ is an important step forward in North Carolina, and we are grateful to the Protect Our Youth NC Coalition -- led by Equality North Carolina and the Campaign for Southern Equality -- for pursuing this important campaign to protect LGBTQ youth,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign. “We look forward to working alongside our partners to pass a law -- similar to those enacted in 18 other states -- that would cover all state-licensed professionals working with minors. For North Carolina to be a leader in the South, the governor and the legislature must prioritize full LGBTQ equality.”

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 resulting in depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and 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.

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this harmful practice. A growing number of municipalities have also enacted similar protections, including at least fifty cities and counties in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, 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.