Conversion Therapy 101

Conversion therapy: everything you need to know in one infographic so you can contact your legislators and urge them to vote in support of LD 1025 and ban conversion therapy in Maine. Or take a look at the full summary below. Contact your legislators using this link

Conversion Therapy 101

LD 1025: An Act To Prohibit the Provision of Conversion Therapy to Minors by Certain Licensed Professionals

SUMMARY drafted by EqualityMaine and GLAD - GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders

The State of Maine has a strong interest in ensuring that licensed health care providers follow evidence-based professional standards and do not engage in dangerous and ineffective practices known to put patients at risk of severe physical and emotional damage. This bill protects minors from practices or treatments by certain medical and mental health providers, licensed by the State of Maine under Title 32, that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, which is known as “conversion therapy.” It also establishes penalties for that conduct. 

What Is Conversion Therapy?

“Conversion therapy” is sometimes referred to as: Reparative Therapy, Ex-Gay Therapy, or Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE). All forms seek to change the patient or client’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity and are based on the scientifically discredited premise that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) is a defect or disorder (1).  Such practices are devoid of scientific validity and pose serious dangers to patients—especially youth. Minors subjected to conversion therapy are often forced to or have no real choice but to participate, and are at especially high risk of harm (2).

All of the Nation’s Leading Professional Medical and Mental Health Associations have Rejected Conversion Therapy as Unnecessary, Ineffective, and Dangerous.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated: “Therapy directed at specifically changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.” The American Psychiatric Association “opposes any psychiatric treatment such as reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder The Pan American Health Organization, a regional office of the World Health Organization, has stated that these practices “lack medical justification and represent a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people.”

How Bad is Conversion Therapy?

Conversion therapy can be extremely dangerous and, in some cases, fatal. Reported risks of the practice include: depression, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, shame, social withdrawal, suicidality, and substance abuse. The risks are even greater for youth. Minors who experience conversion therapy are much more likely to attempt suicide, report high levels of depression, use illegal drugs, and engage in unprotected sexual intercourse compared with other LGBTQ youth who have not had conversion therapy.

Why Is This Law Needed?

Medical and mental health professionals licensed by the State of Maine should be required to provide competent care and not engage in discredited practices known to harm patients. For decades, the American Psychiatric Association has recognized that being lesbian, gay, or bisexual is not a mental illness and that trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is ineffective and dangerous. Despite consensus among professional associations and experts, some therapists continue to engage in these unsafe practices. Laws that prohibit state-licensed medical and mental health professionals from trying to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of people under 18 are especially needed to protect minors - who are forced to or have no real choice but to participate and cannot comprehend what they are participating in or how to evaluate the (mis)information provided and who are at the gravest risk of harm.

Do Any Other States Protect Youth From Conversion Therapy?

YES. California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, New Mexico, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Washington D.C. have all enacted similar laws. 7 of these bills were signed into law by Republican Governors: Chris Christie (NJ), Bruce Rauner (IL), Susanna Martinez (NM), Brian Sandoval (NV), Larry Hogan (MD), Chris Sununu (NH), and Charlie Baker (MA).

Is There Support for the Bill?

YES. The bill has 95 bipartisan co-sponsors, including 19 Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and 76 Republicans, Independents, and Democrats in the House.

 

Footnotes
1. According to a 2009 report of the American Psychological Association, the techniques therapists have used to try to change sexual orientation and gender identity include inducing nausea, vomiting, or paralysis while showing the patient homoerotic images; providing electric shocks; having the individual snap an elastic band around the wrist when aroused by same-sex erotic images or thoughts; using shame to create aversion to same-sex attractions; orgasmic reconditioning; and satiation therapy. Other techniques include trying to make patients’ behavior more stereotypically feminine or masculine, teaching heterosexual dating skills, using hypnosis to try to redirect desires and arousal, and other techniques—all based on the scientifically discredited premise that being LGBT is a defect or disorder.
2. In 2000, the American Psychiatric Association published a statement concluding that: “In the last four decades, ‘reparative’ therapists have not produced any rigorous scientific research to substantiate their claims of cure.” or based upon the assumption that a patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation.” The American Psychological Association “advises 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.”

Contact your legislators and urge them to support LD 1025!
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