Eau Claire, WI to Protect Youth from Dangerous Practice of so-called “Conversion Therapy"

by Ianthe Metzger

MILWAUKEE -- Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, hailed the Eau Claire City Council for unanimously passing a measure protecting LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” Eau Claire is the third Wisconsin city to pass these crucial protections, following Milwaukee and Madison.

“In the face of anti-LGBTQ attacks from state and national politicians, cities and states are stepping up to move equality forward,” said HRC Wisconsin State Director Wendy Strout. “Conversion therapy is child abuse and we commend the Eau Claire City Council for putting the well-being and safety of our youth first. We remain committed to working with our partners nationwide to ensure that youth are protected from this junk science in every city in every state.”

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.

In addition to cities in Wisconsin, a growing number of municipalities across the country, including cities and counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, Florida, New York and Arizona, have enacted similar crucial protections. Connecticut, California, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii and  New Hampshire all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice.

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.

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. More information on the lies and dangers of efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity can be found here.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.


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