Defending What We’ve Won: The Trevor Project Files an Amicus in the 11th Circuit Defending Boca Raton’s Anti-conversion Therapy Law

Following a successful lower court ruling defending the anti-conversion therapy ordinance in Boca Raton, FL, The Trevor Project filed an amicus brief today with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in the case of Otto v. Boca Raton. The new amicus brief provides the Court and the public with The Trevor Project’s unique insights collected from our inaugural National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health revealing the devastating impact this dangerous and discredited practice has on LGBTQ youth.

The Trevor Project survey of 34,000 LGBTQ youth found that of the 5% of LGBTQ youth who reported undergoing conversion therapy, 42% reported a suicide attempt in the past year. LGBTQ youth who underwent conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide in the past 12 months compared to their LGBTQ peers who did not report undergoing conversion therapy.

As argued in our amicus brief, The Trevor Project has a special interest in supporting the enforcement of ordinances prohibiting the practice of conversion therapy because many of the young people that The Trevor Project serves are survivors of conversion therapy or have a credible fear that their family members will compel them to receive conversion therapy.  

The Trevor Project’s 50 Bills 50 States campaign works to introduce and defend legislation to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy in every state in the country. Through our research, we can provide a unique and important perspective for the court regarding the potential harm of granting a preliminary injunction stopping enforcement of Boca Raton’s anti-conversion therapy ordinance. Once legislation is passed protecting youth from conversion therapy, it is just as important to defend these laws in court.

The Trevor Project was represented in this matter by pro bono counsel from Gibson Dunn, including Stuart Delery, Lora MacDonald, Corey Singer, and Dione Garlick.


Beto O’Rourke’s Platform Includes Protecting LGBTQ Youth From Conversion Therapy

By John Paul Brammer

On the heels of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) unveiling her LGBTQ platform, fellow presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke announced Wednesday that his plan also includes protecting LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy.

The plan details executive actions O’Rourke would pursue in support of the LGBTQ community. “We must ensure all Americans are treated equally no matter who they are or who they love,” O’Rourke said in a statement on the proposal.

In addition to overturning the ban on transgender troops in the military and supporting the Equality Act, O’Rourke said he would task the FTC with cracking down on conversion therapy as a form of fraud, in an approach similar to that proposed by Congressman Ted Lieu’s “Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act.”

Conversion therapy refers to the dangerous and discredited practice of attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ people. At The Trevor Project, the world’s largest organization dedicated to LGBTQ youth in crisis, we know all too well how rejection can negatively impact vulnerable young people. In fact, in The Trevor Project’s National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 42 percent of LGBTQ youth who underwent conversion therapy reported a suicide attempt in the last year.

“Politicians across the country are recognizing that conversion therapy has no place in our modern health care system because there is nothing wrong with being LGBTQ. In fact, the conversion therapy itself is what causes the harms,” said Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project. “At The Trevor Project, we hear from youth harmed by conversion therapy every week and appreciate candidates like former Congressman O’Rourke using their voice to protect our vulnerable youth.”

Statements like O’Rourke’s and Gillibrand’s help bring national attention to the crucial issue of conversion therapy practiced by licensed professionals, which is still a threat to minors in 32 states. Politicians from both sides of the aisle have the opportunity to protect LGBTQ youth and to affirm a future where they can be exactly who they are.


The Trevor Project Applauds the Introduction of the “Every Child Deserves a Family Act”

Washington, DC — The “Every Child Deserves a Family Act” was introduced today with bipartisan support. This legislation would prohibit federally funded child welfare service providers from discriminating against children, families, and individuals based on religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status, and would protect LGBTQ youth in the child welfare system from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy.

“Given the undeniable crisis in our foster care system today, where too many children age out without finding their forever home and LGBTQ youth are subject to harm from discrimination, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act is vital to the well-being of America’s most vulnerable youth,” said Casey Pick, Senior Fellow for Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people. “We are especially grateful that this legislation would protect LGBTQ youth in foster care from being subjected to attempts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity through the pseudo-scientific practice of conversion therapy.”

The Trevor Project is a member of the Every Child Deserves a Family Coalition, led by the Family Equality Council. Learn more about the campaign supporting this legislation at www.everychilddeservesafamily.com.

Studies have shown LGBTQ foster youth suffer worse outcomes in foster care, including longer stays in residential group homes rather than with families, higher rates of multiple placements, homelessness, hospitalization for emotional or mental health reasons, and elevated rates of suicide attempts.

The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth, is invested in ending conversion therapy in every state. A 2018 study found that the rate of attempted suicide by LGBTQ youth whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation was more than double the rate of LGBTQ youth who reported no such attempts. For LGBTQ young people who reported both home-based efforts to change their sexual orientation by parents and efforts by therapists or religious leaders, the rate was three times higher.

Learn more about reporting on conversion therapy.

ABOUT THE TREVOR PROJECT

The Trevor Project is the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people. The Trevor Project offers a suite of 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs, including TrevorLifelineTrevorText, and TrevorChat as well as the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth, TrevorSpace. Trevor also operates an education program with resources for youth-serving adults and organizations, an advocacy department fighting for pro-LGBTQ legislation and against anti-LGBTQ rhetoric/policy positions, and a research team to discover the most effective means to help young LGBTQ people in crisis and end suicide. If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, our trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386 via chat www.TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678678.

MEDIA CONTACT

Kevin Wong
The Trevor Project
646.576.7044
[email protected]


Sen. Gillibrand’s Proposed Platform Includes Protecting LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

By John Paul Brammer

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) unveiled her LGBTQ rights agenda on Saturday, which included a plan to ban conversion therapy nationwide. In the Medium post, Gillibrand said she would enact a ban “finally outlawing this despicable, torturous practice in the 32 states that have yet to do so.”

“The LGBTQ community is not a monolith with a finite set of needs, and equal rights and freedom from discrimination should be the bare minimum we accept,” Gillibrand wrote.

Conversion therapy refers to the dangerous and discredited practice of attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ people. At The Trevor Project, the world’s largest organization dedicated to LGBTQ youth in crisis, we know all too well how rejection can negatively impact vulnerable young people.

“Ending the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy is vital to protect LGBTQ youth from the harms of this pseudo-scientific ‘therapy,’ which include dramatically increased risk of suicide attempt. The Trevor Project regularly hears from youth who have been subjected to conversion therapy on our crisis services,” said Casey Pick, Senior Fellow for Advocacy & Government Affairs for The Trevor Project.

“Research from the UCLA Williams Institute found in 2018 that an estimated 20,000 LGBTQ youth ages 13 to 17 will undergo conversion therapy from a licensed health care professional before the age of 18,” Pick continued. “Legislation can reduce that number, saving youth from unnecessary trauma and ultimately saving lives.”

Statements like Gillibrand’s help bring national attention to the crucial issue of conversion therapy, which, as Gillibrand noted, is still a threat to minors in 32 states. Politicians from both sides of the aisle have the opportunity to protect LGBTQ youth and to affirm a future where they can be exactly who they are.


Nation’s First Openly Gay Governor Signs Landmark LGBTQ Legislation into Law for Colorado

Colorado Becomes 18th State to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

Denver, CO — In a historic day for Colorado and the nation, Governor Jared Polis — the country’s first openly gay governor — signed HB19-1039: Jude’s Law and HB19-1129: Prohibit Conversion Therapy for A Minor. These two pieces of legislation are vital to the health and safety of LGBTQ youth in Colorado. Versions of these bills were first introduced in 2015, and previously failed to receive hearings. This year, both bills passed with bipartisan support in both chambers.

Sponsored by the LGBT Caucus co-chairs Representative Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, and Senator Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, Jude’s Law will allow transgender Coloradans to more easily update the gender on their birth certificate, enabling them to have the identification documents that match who they are. Coloradans will be able to update their gender on their birth certificate to M, F, or X — without a surgery, a doctor’s note, or court order. This bill removes both the surgery requirement and court order requirement, allowing transgender people the ability to self-identify on their ID document. The bill removes the publication requirement for a name change in order to reflect one’s gender identity. A new birth certificate will be issued instead of an amended birth certificate when updating gender. Colorado is the third state in the country (including California and Oregon) to have non-binary gender options for both driver’s licenses and birth certificates.

Sponsored by Representatives Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, and Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, and Senator Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, HB19-1129 will ban a state-licensed mental health care provider from engaging in the discredited, harmful practice of conversion therapy on a patient under 18 years of age. Conversion therapy is the discredited and dangerous practice of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. A physician or mental health care provider who violates this provision engages in unprofessional conduct under the applicable professional licensing board. Colorado will be the 18th state in the country to protect minors from conversion therapy.

“This was a historic session for LGBTQ Coloradans and their families. With legislation that impacts youth, transgender, and non-binary Coloradans, One Colorado championed bills for some of the most vulnerable in our community to improve the everyday lives of LGBTQ Coloradans. The strong bipartisan support of both of these bills further demonstrates that LGBTQ equality should be a nonpartisan issue, and we applaud the Republicans who stood with our community. Colorado will continue to make history as our country’s first openly gay Governor, Jared Polis, signs our pro-equality agenda into law to send a strong message that Colorado is a state that is open to all,” said Daniel Ramos, Executive Director of One Colorado.

“The Trevor Project is proud to stand with One Colorado and all of the amazing lawmakers and advocates in the Centennial State as they become the 18th state in the country to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangers of conversion therapy,” said Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project. “Watching the first openly LGBTQ governor in the nation sign this legislation is an especially humbling moment. Trevor will continue working across the nation until this horrible practice is relegated to the dustbin of history.”

The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth, is invested in ending conversion therapy in every state. A 2018 study found that the rate of attempted suicide by LGBTQ youth whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation was more than double the rate of LGBTQ youth who reported no such attempts. For LGBTQ young people who reported both home-based efforts to change their sexual orientation by parents and efforts by therapists or religious leaders, the rate was three times higher.

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 Trevor Project’s 50 Bills 50 States campaign has partnered with the Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Lesbian Rights, One Colorado, and GLAD, along with local advocates in support of these vital protections. People can sign up to join The Trevor Project’s effort to end conversion therapy by texting “TREVOR” to 40649.

Learn more about reporting on conversion therapy.

ABOUT THE TREVOR PROJECT

The Trevor Project is the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people. The Trevor Project offers a suite of 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs, including TrevorLifelineTrevorText, and TrevorChat as well as the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth, TrevorSpace. Trevor also operates an education program with resources for youth-serving adults and organizations, an advocacy department fighting for pro-LGBTQ legislation and against anti-LGBTQ rhetoric/policy positions, and a research team to discover the most effective means to help young LGBTQ people in crisis and end suicide. If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, our trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386 via chat www.TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678678.

MEDIA CONTACT

Kevin Wong
The Trevor Project
646.576.7044
[email protected]


Advocate Julie Rodgers Shares Her Conversion Therapy Experience

By John Paul Brammer

“My mom made me quit softball so I wouldn’t be lesbian,” Julie Rodgers said over the phone. “You can kind of tell at a young age if a kid is some version of queer, and she was very concerned about gays and lesbians. Especially lesbian softball coaches in sweater vests.”

Julie is from a small town called Tomball just outside of Houston, Texas. She knew she was gay when she was 12, she said, something she figured her mother wouldn’t approve of. Julie was homeschooled until high school to keep her away from “the gays and evolution.” When she finally did come out to her mother on Valentine’s Day during her junior year, she said her mother broke down in tears.

“She told me, ‘We’re going to get through this together,’” Julie said. “The next week, she pulled me out of school early and said she had made an appointment with someone who could ‘help me.’”

That person was an executive director of an organization under the umbrella of Exodus International, a group that sought to subject LGBTQ people to conversion therapy, a dangerous and discredited practice that claims to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity through a variety of means.

The organization met at a church in Arlington, TX. There were around 150 people in the room when she arrived, Julie said, along with comfortable chairs and a white board. She met the executive director, who gave talks about the Bible and divided the group into men and women.

He told the two groups to review each other’s sexual activity that week with a rating scale of one to ten in an effort to hold each other accountable. “Ten was sex, six was watching porn, and masturbating was a three,” Julie said. “They would start with the highest numbers, and the leaders would try to help you find the root cause,” which stems from the discredited notion that a person’s life experiences or family history can somehow be the reason for someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Contact beyond the parameters of the meetings was forbidden. “We weren’t allowed to share our last names or contacts because they were worried we’d hook up,” Julie said. “There was major policing if there was contact outside the group, and you were supposed to report people who tried to.”

Previously at school, there were coaches and teachers Julie had come out to before going through conversion therapy, she said. These people had accepted her, particularly the assistant principal. But in her time with the conversion therapy organization, she said the executive director tried to blame the supportive, affirming assistant principal as the reason that Julie was in conversion therapy.

“They told me she targeted me and recruited me and that I wouldn’t be gay if it weren’t for her influence,” Julie said. “They were interpreting the data from my life that way, and that’s what they saw. They couldn’t see the compassion.”

According to studies by the UCLA Williams Institute, nearly 700,000 LGBTQ people have been subjected to the horrors of conversion therapy, and an estimated 57,000 LGBTQ youth will experience this unprofessional conduct in coming years, often at the insistence of well-intentioned but misinformed parents or caretakers.

The American Psychiatric Association has clarified that “the potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.” The Pan American Health Organization, a regional office of the World Health Organization, concluded that conversion therapy, “lack[s] medical justification and represent[s] a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people.”

The Trevor Project is committed to working to end conversion therapy on minors through legislation, litigation and public education. It partners with mental health associations, youth organizations, LGBTQ groups, student clubs, faith communities and educational institutions in every state to promote the submission and passage of meaningful legislation.

Julie, who was involved with the conversion therapy organization for almost ten years, knows that for many people, efforts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity come from religious community figures rather than, or in addition to, licensed professionals. Despite this, she said she’s still a Christian, and she’s made it her work to reach out to LGBTQ young people of faith to let them know there’s nothing wrong with them.

She’s still waiting for her mom to come around, but she said her dad is in her life, and that she even took her wife to meet her 93-year-old grandmother, who was delighted. Just as important to Julie is her LGBTQ chosen family, people she knows she can rely on. She hopes to make sure LGBTQ youth feel they have someone looking out for them, too.

“I want all queer young people in faith communities to know they don’t have to choose between their faith and sexuality,” she said. “God delights in them exactly the way they are and there are tons of Christians who enthusiastically welcome queer people in their churches. I want them to know they’re not alone. They’re not a mistake. They’re a gift to this world.”


Maine Becomes 17th State to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

Augusta, ME — This morning Governor Janet Mills signed HP755, a bill to protect LGBTQ youth in Maine from the dangers of conversion therapy. The bill passed by an overwhelming majority for the second year in a row after Governor LePage vetoed the legislation last year. The Trevor Project and our allies applaud Governor Mills and the bipartisan coalition of lawmakers who took a stand to protect young Mainers from this discredited practice.

“The legislature and Gov. Mills are sending a clear and meaningful message to our LGBTQ young people. You matter. You belong. And you are loved for who you are,” said Representative Ryan Fecteau, the prime sponsor of the bill. “Conversion therapy is irresponsible and harmful. I am so proud that Maine is standing tall to affirm that no young person needs to ‘fix’ what is not broken.”

“With this signature, Maine has become a safer and more welcoming place for LGBTQ youth, who will never again need fear being sent to a licensed professional for the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy,” said Matt Moonen, Executive Director of EqualityMaine. “We are grateful that Governor Mills, along with legislators in the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle, were able to come together to act to protect Maine’s youth.”

“The Trevor Project applauds the hard work of Representative Fecteau, EqualityMaine, and all of the advocates and lawmakers in Maine for their perseverance,” said Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project. “After the disappointment of last year’s veto, they came back stronger and passed legislation to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangers of conversion therapy. We will continue to push each and every day to insure that every state in the country follows Maine’s example and ends this cruel practice once and for all.”

The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth, is invested in ending conversion therapy in every state. A 2018 study found that the rate of attempted suicide by LGBTQ youth whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation was more than double the rate of LGBTQ youth who reported no such attempts. For LGBTQ young people who reported both home-based efforts to change their sexual orientation by parents and efforts by therapists or religious leaders, the rate was three times higher.

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 Trevor Project’s 50 Bills 50 States campaign has partnered with the Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Lesbian Rights, EqualityMaine, and GLAD, along with local advocates in support of these vital protections. People can sign up to join The Trevor Project’s effort to end conversion therapy by texting “TREVOR” to 40649.

Learn more about reporting on conversion therapy.

ABOUT THE TREVOR PROJECT

The Trevor Project is the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people. The Trevor Project offers a suite of 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs, including TrevorLifelineTrevorText, and TrevorChat as well as the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth, TrevorSpace. Trevor also operates an education program with resources for youth-serving adults and organizations, an advocacy department fighting for pro-LGBTQ legislation and against anti-LGBTQ rhetoric/policy positions, and a research team to discover the most effective means to help young LGBTQ people in crisis and end suicide. If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, our trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386 via chat www.TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678678.

MEDIA CONTACT

Kevin Wong
The Trevor Project
646.576.7044
[email protected]


Massachusetts Becomes 16th State to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

Boston, MA — Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker today signed H. 140 to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangerous practice of conversion therapy, which falsely claims to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Massachusetts is the 16th state to legally prohibit licensed practitioners from using the discredited practice on minors.

The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth, is invested in ending conversion therapy in every state. A 2018 study found that the rate of attempted suicide by LGBTQ youth whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation was more than double the rate of LGBTQ youth who reported no such attempts. For LGBTQ young people who reported both home-based efforts to change their sexual orientation by parents and efforts by therapists or religious leaders, the rate was three times higher.

“The Trevor Project applauds Governor Baker and the Massachusetts Legislature for protecting youth in the Bay State from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy,” said Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project. “Not only will their actions reduce harm to queer youth in the Bay state, but the clear, bipartisan support for this legislation sends a powerful message to lawmakers around the country that this abusive practice must end.”

“After many years of hard work and advocacy, I am so excited that today Massachusetts became the 16th state to finally ban conversion therapy for minors. I am grateful to Governor Charlie Baker for signing the bill, to House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, Senate President Karen Spilka, my colleague in the Senate Julian Cyr, the majority of the Massachusetts Legislature and for a large coalition of advocates for getting this done. At last, LGBTQ youth in Massachusetts are now finally protected from harmful and abusive practices,” said State Representative Kay Khan.

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.

“We are grateful that MA will now protect young people from this fraudulent treatment which is both cruel and barbaric,” said Arline Isaacson, Co-Chair of The Massachusetts Coalition to Ban Conversion Therapy for Minors.

The Trevor Project’s 50 Bills 50 States campaign has partnered with the Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Lesbian Rights, MassEquality and local advocates in support of these vital protections. People can sign up to join The Trevor Project’s effort to end conversion therapy by texting “TREVOR” to 40649.

Learn more about reporting on conversion therapy.

ABOUT THE TREVOR PROJECT

The Trevor Project is the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people. The Trevor Project offers a suite of 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs, including TrevorLifelineTrevorText, and TrevorChat as well as the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth, TrevorSpace. Trevor also operates an education program with resources for youth-serving adults and organizations, an advocacy department fighting for pro-LGBTQ legislation and against anti-LGBTQ rhetoric/policy positions, and a research team to discover the most effective means to help young LGBTQ people in crisis and end suicide. If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, our trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386 via chat www.TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678678.

MEDIA CONTACT

Kevin Wong
The Trevor Project
646.576.7044
[email protected]


One Step Closer to Banning Conversion Therapy for MA LGTBQ Youth

Bill will bar state-licensed health providers from engaging in therapy aimed at changing the gender identity or sexual orientation of LGBTQ minors

BOSTON, MA – State Representative Kay Khan (D-Newton) applauded her legislative colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate who passed the so-called “Conversion Therapy Ban Bill” by a vote of 34/0. H.140, An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors, was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Khan and successfully passed by a vote of 147/8, and co-sponsored by 116 state legislators, including members of both the House and Senate.

“As this bill’s lead sponsor, I thank Senate President Karen Spilka for pushing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts one step closer to banning state licensed conversion therapy, as we did in the House of Representatives two weeks ago under House Speaker Bob DeLeo’s leadership,” said Chairwoman Khan. “I am proud that I have persisted session after session in filing the Conversion Therapy Ban Bill and to be working with a broad coalition of over twenty statewide legal, mental health, child welfare, and LGBTQ organizations, as well as parents dedicated to promoting the well-being and safety of our children in Massachusetts. At the end of the day, this bill is about prohibiting discrimination in health care settings for youth in the LGBTQ community.”

Currently, state-licensed health providers are legally allowed to subject children, under the age of 18, to harmful and abusive conversion therapy practices to change sexual orientation or gender identity. Such practices include, but are not limited to, efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex. Editor’s note: learn more about reporting on conversion therapy.

A 2018 study found that the rate of attempted suicide by LGBTQ youth whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation was more than double the rate of LGBTQ youth who reported no such attempts. For LGBTQ young people who reported both home-based efforts to change their sexual orientation by parents and efforts by therapists or religious leaders, the rate was three times higher. Organizations like The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth, are invested in ending conversion therapy in every state.

“As the final legislative vote passes to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy, it’s important to acknowledge that this bill will save numerous young lives in Massachusetts,” said Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs, The Trevor Project. “Life-saving policy leaders like State Representative Khan, the hundreds of Representatives and Senators in support of this bill, and the thousands of local advocates from The Trevor Project’s 50 Bills 50 States campaign should be proud of their unwavering support of LGBTQ young people and survivors of conversion therapy.”

The nation’s leading professional and mental health organizations universally condemn conversion therapy methods, which put youth at high risk of depression, anxiety and suicidality. The bill is supported by a large coalition of over twenty organizations in Massachusetts, including: GLAD, National Association of Social Workers Massachusetts, MassEquality, the ACLU of Massachusetts, the Boston Bar Association, the Children’s League of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Psychological Association, Massachusetts Psychiatric Society, and more.

“We are deeply grateful for the dogged advocacy of Representative Khan and the strong leadership support of Senator Julian Cyr and Senate President Karen Spilka in getting the bill through the Senate,” said Arline Isaacson, Co-Chair of the Coalition to Ban Conversion Therapy for Minors.

If enacted and signed by the Governor, Massachusetts will become the sixteenth state, along with Washington, D.C., to ban conversion therapy practices aimed at changing gender identity and/or sexual orientation of LGBTQ minors.

###

State Representative Khan has represented Newton in the Massachusetts House of Representatives since 1995. She was originally appointed by Speaker Robert DeLeo in 2009 to serve as the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities, and has served in this capacity ever since.

ABOUT THE TREVOR PROJECT

The Trevor Project is the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people. The Trevor Project offers a suite of 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs, including TrevorLifelineTrevorText, and TrevorChat as well as the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth, TrevorSpace. Trevor also operates an education program with resources for youth-serving adults and organizations, an advocacy department fighting for pro-LGBTQ legislation and against anti-LGBTQ rhetoric/policy positions, and a research team to discover the most effective means to help young LGBTQ people in crisis and end suicide. If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, our trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386 via chat www.TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678678.

MEDIA CONTACT

Kevin Wong
The Trevor Project
646.576.7044
[email protected]


Maloney Introduces Legislation to Ban Use of Taxpayer Dollars for Conversion “Therapy”

Bill Would Prohibit Use of Medicaid Funding, Crack Down on Deceptive Billing Practices for Conversion “Therapy”

WASHINGTON – Today, in advance of the Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31st, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), a co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, introduced the Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act. The bill would prevent Medicaid funds from being used to pay for conversion “therapy” and crack down on misleading billing tactics, which have allowed taxpayer dollars to fund the discredited practice. The bill is cosponsored by 63 members of Congress.

“Conversion practices are discredited, harmful, and not therapy. Fundamentally, conversion tactics are based on the idea that a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation are diseases to be cured — they have no legitimate medical application and should not be used anywhere,” said Rep. Maloney. “Until we can just ban conversion therapy all together, we must ensure taxpayer dollars aren’t funding a fraudulent practice that has been roundly discredited by the medical community. That’s exactly what my bill would do.”

“The Trevor Project hears from youth harmed by the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy every week. By limiting the means by which licensed mental health professionals can be reimbursed for their horrific practice, the Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act will make clear that conversion therapy is far outside the mainstream,” said Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project. “More than 21,000 advocates have joined The Trevor Project’s 50 Bills 50 States campaign dedicated to protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy. We look forward to mobilizing them to ensure this critical legislation receives the attention and support it deserves.”

“Being LGBTQ is not a mental illness and should never be treated that way,” said David Stacy, Government Affairs Director for Human Rights Campaign. “So-called ‘conversion therapy’ has been universally rejected by every major medical and mental health organization, and it poses serious health risks including depression and suicide. Taxpayer dollars should never be used to fund this dangerous and discredited practice. As lawmakers across the country step up to protect against conversion therapy, we are grateful for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s leadership on this issue at the federal level. We call on Congress to advance this legislation and ensure funds meant to improve the lives and welfare of all Americans never go toward harmful, medically unnecessary practices.”

“The NEA wholeheartedly supports the ‘Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act’ and applauds U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney for introducing this legislation,” said Marc Egan, Director, NEA Government Relations. “Many organizations, including the American College of Physicians, have discredited any programs that attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. These dangerous practices damage physical, mental, and emotional well-being. As educators, NEA members strive to connect with and support all students, which means recognizing their right to be exactly who they are and opposing all practices that deny this right.”

“Conversion therapy is hateful, dangerous, ineffective, has been resoundingly discredited by medical and psychological associations, and has no place in a just and equitable society,” said Justin Rush, Public Policy Director for True Colors United. “We’re thankful to Congressman Maloney for undertaking this important legislation to ensure that payments through Medicaid for conversion therapy are prohibited moving forward,” concluded Rush.

“Conversion therapy is dangerous and discredited,” said Rebecca Isaacs, Executive Director of Equality Federation. “Through our 43 member organizations we’ve heard from many survivors about the harm and trauma this practice has caused them. Major medical and psychological associations agree, and we know from our personal experiences, that LGBTQ youth are healthier and happier when they are loved and encouraged to be themselves.”

“Family Equality Council is thrilled that Congressman Maloney is leading the effort to ban conversion therapy funded by Medicaid, which is the healthcare provider for foster children,” said Schylar Baber, Federal Policy Consultant at Family Equality Council. “Passage of this bill will mean that foster children, who often don’t have strong support from adults in their lives, will be able to trust that their medical providers will not subject them to this abusive procedure. As a foster care alumni who was subjected to conversion therapy while in care, I can’t overstate the importance of medical providers ensuring that all medical treatment is in the best interest and supports the well-being of the child.”

“Conversion therapy is a charlatan practice that has been widely debunked and discredited by healthcare professionals and banned by law in 15 states, Washington DC, and scores of municipalities and counties,” said Gal Mayer, MD, MS, President, GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality. “As a healthcare provider, I know that these dangerous and unsuccessful attempts to alter a person’s sexuality or gender identity do not work and can result in mental health problems, substance use, and suicide. GLMA has been a staunch opponent of this indefensible, ineffective and fraudulent ‘therapy’ for decades, and fully supports the Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act introduced by Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, which would put an end to Medicaid payments for conversion therapy and represent the next step forward in completely eradicating this disgraceful practice in the US.”

“So-called ‘conversion therapy’ is a harmful, ineffective solution in search of a problem that doesn’t exist,” said Rick Zbur, Equality California Executive Director. “We should be using Medicaid dollars to expand access to quality, affordable care — not spending taxpayer money on dangerous junk science.”

Conversion “therapy” attempts to “cure” the sexual orientation or gender identity of members of the LGBTQ+ community. Despite being discredited by the American Psychiatric Association, American College of Physicians, American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, and other medical and civil rights organizations, thousands of innocent LGBTQ people are subjected to so-called “conversion” or “reparative therapy” each year. Research has found that the practice can lead to depression, decreases in self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior. According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ young people have been forced to undergo the practice.

States currently decide which services Medicaid can cover and most have failed to ban the use of funding for conversion “therapy.” Because CMS codes do not mention the model of therapy being applied, even illegitimate practices can be performed and billed. The Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act would take several steps to combat the practice. First, it would legally define “conversion therapy” while ensuring that organizations which provide legitimate support to LGBTQ people are not at risk of losing funding. The bill would also ban the use of Medicaid funding for conversion “therapy” and ensure the practice is not paid for through the use of deceptive billing practices using CMS codes for mental and behavioral health.

The bill has been endorsed by The Trevor Project, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), National Education Association, PFLAG National, Gay & Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA), National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Council for Global Equality (CGE), National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), Third Way, True Colors Fund, Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, Family Equality Council, AIDS United, Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), National Black Justice Coalition, National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, Equality California.

The bill is cosponsored by Representatives: Ted Lieu, Tulsi Gabbard, Mark Takano, Suzanne Bonamici, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Alan Lowenthal, Charlie Crist, Adriano Espaillat, Eliot Engel, Andre Carson, Raul Grijalva, Steve Cohen, Derek Kilmer, Michael Doyle, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Jimmy Gomez, Betty McCollum, Chris Pappas, Earl Blumenauer, Eric Swalwell, Paul Tonko, Gregory Meeks, Juan Vargas, Brian Higgins, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Jackie Speier, Mark Pocan, Pramila Jayapal, Alcee Hastings, Seth Moulton, Dina Titus, Norma Torres, James Himes, Bobby Rush, Julia Brownley, Dan Kildee, Adam Smith, James McGovern, John Garamendi, Joseph Kennedy, Nydia Velazquez, Doris Matsui, Mike Quigley, Tim Ryan, David Cicilline, Grace Napolitano, Bill Foster, Angie Craig, Shiela Jackson Lee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Scott Peters, Ilhan Omar, Jennifer Wexton, Peter DeFazio, Jerrold Nadler, Rose L. DeLauro, Susan Wild, Denny Heck, Debbie Watson Coleman, Barbara Lee, Jimmy Panetta, Robin L. Kelly, Anthony Brown.

ABOUT THE TREVOR PROJECT

The Trevor Project is the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people. The Trevor Project offers a suite of 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs, including TrevorLifelineTrevorText, and TrevorChat as well as the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth, TrevorSpace. Trevor also operates an education program with resources for youth-serving adults and organizations, an advocacy department fighting for pro-LGBTQ legislation and against anti-LGBTQ rhetoric/policy positions, and a research team to discover the most effective means to help young LGBTQ people in crisis and end suicide. If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, our trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386 via chat www.TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678678.

MEDIA CONTACT

Kevin Wong
The Trevor Project
646.576.7044
[email protected]