Atlanta, GA — The Georgia Assembly has filed landmark legislation, the Youth Mental Health Protection Act (HB 580), to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy, which falsely claims to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill is sponsored by Representatives Matthew Wilson (Brookhaven), Mary Margaret Oliver (Decatur), Shelly Hutchinson (Snellville), Debbie Buckner (Junction City), Pat Gardner (Atlanta), and Karla Drenner (Avondale Estates). With its submission, Georgia joins 23 other states with active legislation working to prevent conversion therapy and 15 with enacted laws protecting youth from its harms.
“All children in Georgia should receive care that first, does no harm. Conversion therapy has no scientific basis and contradicts the medical community’s understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Representative Matthew Wilson. “I am proud to sponsor this bill that helps ensure the safety of Georgia’s LGBTQ youth by outlawing this incredibly dangerous practice.”
Organizations like The Trevor Project and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are invested in ending conversion therapy in every state because lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth from highly rejecting families are more than 8 times more likely to attempt suicide than youth from accepting families. Being subjected to conversion therapy is often a particularly extreme form of family rejection.
“There is no question. Georgia must protect LGBTQ youth from the harms of conversion therapy,” said Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project. “As The Trevor Project continues to hear from young Georgians in crisis, we know this legislation will save lives, and we’re committed to seeing it start a critical conversation in the Peach State.”
Conversion therapy is widely opposed by prominent professional medical associations including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“The Georgia chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is part of Converse, a coalition advocating for passage of HB 580, including Georgia’s medical and mental health professionals, children’s advocacy groups, LGBTQ organizations, and mental health and suicide prevention advocacy groups,” said Roland Behm, Board member, Georgia chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “The State of Georgia has a compelling interest in protecting the physical and psychological well-being of all its children and HB 580 is a critical part of that protection.”
Converse seeks to ensure that Georgia’s children are safe and supported, and advocates for passage of legislation that prohibits mental health professionals licensed in Georgia from providing conversion therapy services to minors.
The Trevor Project’s 50 Bills 50 States campaign works to support legislation like HB 580 to protect LGBTQ people from conversion therapy in every state. 50 Bills 50 States is the largest grassroots campaign in the world endeavoring to protect LGBTQ youth from this dangerous and discredited practice. The organization partners with mental health associations, youth organizations, LGBTQ groups, student clubs, faith communities, and educational institutions in every state by sharing stories, mobilizing volunteers, and informing policymakers to promote the submission and passage of powerful legislation. People can sign up to join The Trevor Project’s effort to end conversion therapy by texting “TREVOR” to 40649.
Editor’s note: learn more about reporting on conversion therapy.