Ahead of governors’ decisions on legislation protecting LGBTQ youth from the abusive practice in Hawaii and New Hampshire, HRC Youth Ambassador Alex Cooper speaks out
WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, released a powerful new video featuring a survivor of the harmful and abusive practice of so-called “conversion therapy” — HRC Youth Ambassador Alex Cooper. Twelve states plus the District of Columbia all have laws or regulations protecting LGBTQ youth from the dangerous practice, and legislation is now pending governors’ decisions in Hawaii and New Hampshire.
“No child should be subjected to this practice that amounts to nothing less than child abuse,” said Olivia Dalton, HRC Senior Vice President for Communications and Marketing. “We’re thankful for Alex Cooper’s willingness to boldly share her story. It is our hope that this powerful new video will help fuel the momentum we are seeing across the nation as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle work with us to pass legislation protecting LGBTQ youth from this dangerous and discredited practice.”
The new video features HRC Youth Ambassador Alex Cooper. When she was only 15, Alex’s life changed when she came out to her Mormon family as a lesbian. Her parents took her to Utah, where for eight months she was subjected to efforts to change her sexual orientation. In her book about the experience, titled Saving Alex, she writes: “My story is an easy one to tell. No one should be beaten, or be told that God doesn’t want them, or be sent to dangerous so-called ‘conversion therapy’ because they are gay. No family should feel they have to choose between their faith and their child.” Alex now lives with her girlfriend in Portland, Oregon, and works on behalf of a children’s charity.
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.
Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, and Maryland 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. Both the state of Washington and Maryland passed their protections into law this year.
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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