Mental Health, Child Welfare & Education Orgs Back Legislative Efforts to Protect LGBTQ Youth

by Stephen Peters

A record number of state legislatures from coast to coast are considering legislation to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practice

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, released a letter signed by national organizations representing millions of licensed medical and mental health care professionals, educators, and child welfare advocates backing legislative efforts around the country to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy.”

The letter is signed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association, National Education Association, National Association of School Psychologists, American School Counselor Association, Mental Health America, Child Welfare League of America, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, National Association of Secondary School Principals, American Medical Women’s Association, and Voice for Adoption. It comes as a record number of state legislatures from coast to coast are considering legislation to protect LGBTQ youth from the harmful practice. Read the full letter here.

“These major child welfare organizations are speaking out at a critically important moment as legislative proposals to protect LGBTQ youth from so-called conversion therapy are pending in state legislatures across the country,” said HRC Legislative Counsel Xavier Persad. “No child should be subjected to this dangerous and discredited practice that amounts to nothing less than child abuse. Lawmakers from Maine to Hawaii must continue to move these crucially important protections forward before the end of session.”

“We stand firmly together in support of legislative and policy efforts to curtail the unscientific and dangerous practice of sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts,” state the organizations in the letter.

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.

Nearly 50 legislative proposals to protect LGBTQ youth from the abusive practice in more than 20 states are being or have been considered in 2018. So far this year, the state of Washington has passed the protections into law. The Maryland legislature recently passed a measure that is awaiting consideration by the governor. Last week, the Hawaii legislature passed protections, which now head to conference committee before moving to the governor’s office. Additionally, legislation has passed through one legislative chamber so far this year in the states of New HampshireColorado, and Maine.

Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Washington all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice. A growing number of municipalities have also enacted similar protections, including cities and counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, Florida, New York, Arizona, 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 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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