HRC To Psychology Today: Reject Ads from Practitioners of “Conversion Therapy"

by HRC Staff

Listings Perpetuate Harmful Practice That Preys on Vulnerable Individuals, Including Children, and Families


Washington - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, called on Psychology Today to stop accepting online listings from mental health practitioners who offer to “cure” LGBT people.  

HRC leadership made the request directly to executives of the publication in a letter that further urged them to build on Psychology Today’s history of LGBT inclusion and affirmation by posting an article condemning the use of harmful “conversion therapy.”  

“So-called ‘conversion therapy’ is a dangerous and discredited practice that falsely claims to change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Fred Sainz, HRC Vice President for Communications and Marketing. “By offering a venue for these medically-debunked practices, Psychology Today is lending them a veneer of credibility - propping up a fraudulent industry that takes advantage of vulnerable individuals, including children, and families.”

In February, HRC became aware that a California-based marriage and family therapist was advertising “conversion therapy” services on Psychology Today’s website. Such therapy is based on the false concept that being LGBT is a mental illness that needs to be cured, a concept rejected for decades by every major medical group in the U.S. Additionally, California and New Jersey, along with the District of Columbia, have laws protecting young people under age 18 from this harmful practice; and numerous states are currently considering similar legislation.

Psychology Today CEO Jo Colman and Vice President/Publisher John Thomas have not responded to private efforts by HRC to persuade them to remove existing “conversion therapy” listings, and prohibit similar ads in the future.

“Not only is there no evidence that a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression can be ‘cured,’ but research shows that ‘conversion therapy’ can lead to depression, substance abuse, homelessness and even suicidal behavior, particularly among young people,” Sainz said. “Psychology Today’s executives have a unique opportunity to take definitive action to protect the LGBT community from these harmful and deceptive practices. We hope they hear our plea.”

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

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