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House resolution would protect LGBT youth from "ex-gay" therapy

WASHINGTON -- Congresswoman Jackie Speier today introduced the landmark “Stop Harming Our Kids” resolution, which calls on states to protect LGBT youth from dangerous and discredited practices by mental health professionals who falsely claim to be able to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

These practices have been rejected as ineffective and harmful by every leading medical and mental health organization in the country.

On Sept. 29, 2012, California became the first state to protect minors from these dangerous practices — which include the use of shame, verbal abuse and aversion therapy — when Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1172 into law.

The law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2013, prohibits state-licensed therapists from engaging in these practices with minors. The National Center for Lesbian Rights helped draft the new law and worked with Equality California and other groups to pass it.

NCLR officials said they are working with a number of state advocates to draft and pass laws similar to California’s SB 1172. Those interested in pursuing a similar bill in their state can contact NCLR’s Geoff Kors at GKors@NCLRights.org or Connie Utada at CUtada@NCLRights.org.

Kate Kendell, NCLR executive director, said the resolution is important.

“We applaud Congresswoman Speier for showing true leadership by shining a light on this important issue. We join her in urging states to protect young people and their families from this dangerous quackery, which has been condemned by every leading mainstream mental health organization in the country,” Kendell said.

“NCLR is committed to working with Congresswoman Speier and state legislators to ensure that no young person is subjected to these dangerous practices and that no parent is deceived by therapists who falsely claim to be able to change a child’s core identity. Every child deserves acceptance and support, and families deserve honest, accurate information about how to protect their children.”

Chad Griffin, HRC president, also praised the resolution.

“We commend Congresswoman Speier for protecting our nation’s children by condemning dangerous psychological practices,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “We call on Congress to do the right thing for our children by supporting the Stop Harming Our Kids resolution.”

Psychological practices to change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity have not only been debunked as junk science, but have also been proven harmful to children and adults. California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law earlier this year banning these practices, after successful lobbying efforts by National Center for Lesbian Rights and Equality California. All major medical and mental health organizations have criticized reparative therapy and warned of its harms. Those organizations include: the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American School Counselor Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Pan American Health Organization. Learn more HERE.

In addition to introducing SHOK, Congresswoman Speier discussed her efforts to investigate whether taxpayer funds have been used to reimburse therapists for these discredited and dangerous practices through the federal Medicaid or TRICARE healthcare programs. She was joined by survivors of conversion practices, mental health professionals, and LGBT advocates, including HRC Legal Director Brian Moulton and representatives from the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center, whose work has been instrumental in these efforts.

Also of note

On Tuesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a groundbreaking lawsuit accusing a gay-conversion therapy organization of fraud. Most major psychological groups consider the practice "junk science" and harmful to the victims.