Massachusetts Gov. Baker Signs Bipartisan Legislation Protecting Youth from “Conversion Therapy”

by Nick Morrow

Massachusetts is the 16th state in the U.S. to protect youth from this egregious practice.

HRC responded to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s signing of H. 140, a bill protecting youth from so-called “conversion therapy,” into law. Massachusetts is the 16th state in the U.S. to protect youth from this egregious practice.

“This legislation grants LGBTQ youth in Massachusetts a new freedom to live authentically, free from fear of the debunked and potentially life-threatening practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy’,” said Marty Rouse, HRC National Field Director. “We thank and applaud Gov. Baker and the Massachusetts General Assembly for making these protections law -- and congratulate them in taking this momentous bipartisan step forward in ensuring Massachusetts is a safe and affirming state for all LGBTQ children.”

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.

Massachusetts is the 16th state to enact statutory protections for youth from so-called “conversion therapy,” following California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia. Last month, Puerto Rico’s Governor issued an executive order protecting minors in the commonwealth from the 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), 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.