June 27, 2014 by HRC staff
Post submitted by Bo Suh, HRC Digital Media Intern
Today, HRC Senior Legislative Council Alison Gill testified in support of a bill that would protect LGBT youth from conversion therapy in the District. The bill, which HRC recommends to be titled the “Youth Mental Health Protection Act,” would prevent mental health practitioners from performing “ex-gay” or conversion therapy on minors.
“These practices are based on the idea that being LGBT is a mental illness that needs to be cured, an idea which has been rejected by every major mental health group for decades,” Gill said.
Conversion therapy is a dangerous and discredited practice that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Gill also emphasized the health risks of such treatment for LGBT youth, such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and suicidal behavior.
LGBT youth are often sent to conversion therapy as a result of family rejection. However, Gill argued that such therapy does not improve family relationships at all.
“Providers who engage in conversion therapy under the veneer of state license can mislead families about the risks involved, leading to negative psychological outcomes and irreparable damage to family cohesiveness. This legislation is needed to protect families from these damaging practices,” she said.
HRC supports this bill for protecting LGBT youth from dangerous practices and discrimination. HRC’s Youth and Campus program seeks to engage, educate, and empower LGBT youth in schools and in their communities. For more information, go to http://www.hrc.org/topics/youth-campus.