Maine Legislature Passes Bill to Protect LGBTQ Youth From Dangerous “Conversion Therapy”

by Nick Morrow

Legislation now heads to the governor’s desk

Today, HRC celebrated the final passage of L.D. 1025 through the Maine legislature. The bill passed the House and Senate earlier this month and cleared its last procedural vote through the Senate today. L.D. 1025 would protect LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and debunked practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” The bipartisan measure now heads to Governor Janet Mills’ desk. If enacted, Maine would become the 17th state in the U.S. to protect youth from this egregious practice. Colorado recently passed a similar bill through its legislature, which will soon move to the governor’s desk.

“All children deserve to live authentically and free from the serious harms of so-called ‘conversion therapy,’” said Xavier Persad, senior legislative counsel at the Human Rights Campaign. “We thank the Maine State Legislature, EqualityMaine and Rep. Ryan Fecteau for their leadership in taking these crucial steps to enact protections for Maine’s LGBTQ youth against this dangerous practice. We look forward to Governor Mills signing these protections into law and Maine joining the growing number of jurisdictions with similar protections.”

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, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, 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, 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.

HRC has partnered with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), EqualityMaine 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.