Madison City Council Passes Measure to Protect LGBTQ Youth from “Conversion Therapy"

Madison Becomes the Second Wisconsin City to Protect Youth from the Abusive, Discredited Practice of “Conversion Therapy” on LGBTQ Youth

MADISON -- Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, praised the Madison City Council for passing a measure protecting  LGBTQ youth in the city from the dangerous, abusive and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” Madison is the second city in Wisconsin to pass such a measure; Milwaukee passed similar protections for minors in March.

“No child should be subjected to abuse -- and that’s exactly what this dangerous, discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy” really is,” said HRC Wisconsin State Director Wendy Strout. “That’s why this abusive practice has been condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, and why 14 states and Washington, D.C. have taken action to protect minors from conversion therapy. We thank Alders Arvina Martin, Shiva Bidar and Amanda Hall, as well as Austin Kieler, chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s LGBTQ Caucus, for their leadership on this issue, and hope it can help fuel the momentum we are seeing nationwide as lawmakers work to pass legislation protecting LGBTQ youth.”

So-called “conversion therapy,” sometimes referred to as “sexual orientation change efforts” or “reparative therapy,” encompasses a range of dangerous practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. These practices are based on the false premise that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that needs to be “cured” — a theory that has been rejected by every major medical and mental health organization.

HRC recently released a video featuring the story of Alex Cooper, a teen in Utah who was subjected to “conversion therapy” and tells the story of her abuse. Watch and share the video here.

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

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 lawmakers 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 organization 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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