In 2018, a record number of jurisdictions are taking aim at banning conversion therapy practices that adversely affect our nation’s working families. Conversion Therapy is an attempt to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity through tactics as obvious as hypnosis or as subtle as inducing shame.
Almost 50 bills have been introduced in 24 states targeting Conversion Therapy, which has been discredited by dozens of medical associations and child-welfare institutions. Just recently, 11 of
them including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Counseling Association released a joint letter urging states to make such bills a priority.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry finds no evidence to support the application of any “therapeutic intervention” operating under the premise that a specific sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression is pathological. Furthermore, based on the scientific evidence, the AACAP asserts that such “conversion therapies” (or other interventions imposed with the intent of promoting a particular sexual orientation and/or gender as a preferred outcome) lack scientific credibility and clinical utility. Additionally, there is evidence that such interventions are harmful. As a result, “conversion therapies” should not be part of any behavioral health treatment of children, adolescents or adults.
Nine years ago, The American Psychological Association issued a resolution on the Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts stating, “We advise parents, guardians, young people, and their families to avoid sexual orientation change efforts that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder and to seek psychotherapy, social support, and educational services that provide accurate information on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support, and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth.”
Momentum has been building in legislative sessions this year for the bans, which prohibit state-licensed mental health professionals from practicing conversion therapy for anyone under 18.
On March 28, 2018, Washington State became the 11th state plus the District of Columbia to enact a law or regulations. California was the first in 2012. And on April 4, Maryland lawmakers passed a ban that Gov. Larry Hogan has indicated he will eventually sign. Many bills across the nation and in several jurisdictions are still in play.
Local jurisdictions have taken up the cause as well. More than 40 municipal bans and resolutions condemning the practice are on the books in cities and counties — in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, Washington, Arizona and New York — seven of which have already passed in 2018.
WHEREAS, The Gay Conversion Therapy issue is not about Republicans or Democrats nor conservatives or liberals. It’s not about religious values. It’s about basic human decency. It’s about the fact that it’s impossible to fix something that was never broken in the first place; and
WHEREAS, A national community of professionals have determined that there is no scientifically valid evidence that supports the practice of attempting to prevent a person from being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or gender nonconforming; and
WHEREAS, Such professionals have determined that there is no evidence that conversion therapy is effective or that an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity can be changed by conversion therapy; and
WHEREAS, Such professionals have also determined that the potential risks of conversion therapy are not only ineffective, but also that it is substantially dangerous to an individual’s mental and physical well- being. It has also been shown to contribute to depression, self-harm, low self-esteem, family rejection, and suicide; and
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, Pride at Work opposes all portrayals of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth and adults as mentally ill due to their sexual orientation and supports the dissemination of accurate information about sexual orientation, and mental health, and appropriate interventions in order to counteract bias that is based in ignorance or unfounded beliefs about sexual orientation; and
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED it is in the best interest of our nation and our unions to make sure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and gender nonconforming people and their working families are not defrauded by persons seeking to profit by offering this harmful and wholly ineffective therapy; and
THEREFORE, BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED we as LGBTQ working people, resolve to protect the physical and psychological well-being of all people and their working families, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, against exposure to serious harms caused by sexual orientation change efforts.
Submitted by Bess Watts, Rochester-Fingerlakes Chapter & Pride at Work VP of Organizing