This year in Massachusetts, House Bill 154 (An Act Relative to Abusive Practices to Change Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity in Minors) was proposed in order to ban licensed professionals from trying to force young people under the age of 18 to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. This bill would provide much-needed protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LBGTQ) youth and their families.
This bill would ban licensed medical professionals (including mental health or human service professionals, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, allied mental health and human services professionals, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed rehabilitation counselors, licensed mental health counselors, licensed educational psychologists, and any of their respective interns or trainees) from forcing a minor to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. This abusive practice is known as conversion therapy.
How to Help
Download the Conversion Therapy Ban fact sheet (PDF). Then tell your legislators to stand against the use of anti-LGBT “conversion therapy” tactics on minors.
For weeks, state senators and representatives have been receiving letters from the opposition to this bill. These letters argue in support of allowing homophobic and transphobic professionals to continue to subject their younger patients to harmful conversion “therapy” practices that have been denounced by the APA.
We need our legislators to know the truth: Conversion therapy has no scientific or clinical basis, efforts to force someone to “change” their identity can be traumatic and harmful, and Massachusetts youth deserve to be protected against these damaging tactics.
Please take a few minutes to email your state legislators to let them know that you stand with the youth of Massachusetts. It’s easy to find your state legislators and use the sample message below.
Dear Representative/Senator ____,
I am writing to ask you to help protect minors by supporting H. 154. This bill would prohibit licensed professionals from practicing dangerous and discredited “conversion therapy” tactics geared toward repressing a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Conversion therapy has no clinical or scientific basis, and the treatment involved is often traumatic. Many survivors who were subjected to these practices as minors deal with the fallout of this trauma for the rest of their lives. Please do not leave children vulnerable to these harmful practices.
Conversion therapy is based on the false claim that being gay, bisexual, or transgender is a mental illness that should be cured. However, in 1973 the American Psychiatric Association determined that homosexuality was not a mental illness but a normal variant of human nature. Unfortunately, youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) may be coerced into and subjected to these harmful practices, which can result in a range of negative outcomes including depression, substance abuse, and suicidality.
There is no evidence that conversion therapy works to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. While LGBTQ minors and their families are often deceived into thinking that conversion therapy is a legitimate therapeutic strategy, the fact is that these practices are not condoned by any major medical organization. The American Psychological Association “advises parents, guardians, young people and their families to avoid sexual orientation change efforts that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder.” Similarly, the American Psychiatric Association adds that therapy geared toward changing sexual orientation or gender identity can cause self-hatred, depression, anxiety, and “self-destructive behavior.”
H. 154 will prohibit licensed medical, mental health, and human services professionals from engaging in conversion therapy efforts with a person under the age of 18. Testimony supporting the bill was heard on July 16th in the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities.
Children under the age of eighteen cannot meaningfully consent to such dangerous and unsupported practices. We need to put laws into place protecting minors and their families from professionals who push anti-LGBTQ agendas at the expense of children.
Please help to protect the youth of Massachusetts from this damaging and discredited practice.