Reading, PA Becomes Latest Municipality to Protect Youth from “Conversion Therapy"

by Ianthe Metzger

WASHINGTON -- Today, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization praised the Reading, Pennsylvania City Council for unanimously passing a measure to protect LGBTQ youth from “conversion therapy.” The ordinance prohibits licensed medical and mental health professionals from engaging in the dangerous and discredited practice upon minors within city limits. Reading is the fourth Pennsylvania city to pass such a measure following Allentown, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

“No child should be put through the dangerous and inhumane practice of conversion therapy which we know doesn’t work,” said HRC State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley. “This victory would not have been possible without the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center and the LGBT Center of Greater Reading, who pushed for the council’s consideration and worked tirelessly toward passage of the ordinance. We remain committed to working with our partners in Pennsylvania and across the nation to ensure that this junk science is banned in every jurisdiction.”

"LGBT youth in the City of Reading achieved a major victory tonight with Reading City Council's vote to ban unscientific conversion therapy,” said Adrian Shanker, Executive Director of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center. “LGBT youth are fine, just the way they are, and Reading is to be applauded for being on the leading-edge when it comes to protecting LGBT youth from this harmful quackery."

“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 for decades by every major medical and mental health organization.

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

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 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer equality. 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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