Cheh introduces legislation banning gay conversion therapy

Bill would prohibit licensed mental health providers from offering conversion therapy to minors.

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) introduced legislation that would ban gay conversion or reparative therapy for minors. Such therapy attempts to alter the sexual orientation of individuals from homosexual to heterosexual. These treatments often involve behavior modification and psychoanalysis based on stereotypes of traditional masculinity, femininity, and sexuality.

“Every major mental health organization in America — including the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the National Association of Social Workers — has discredited this form of therapy,” said Cheh. “Not only are these therapies without scientific merit, but these practices have proven to have long-lasting, damaging effects on children. Many children who have participated in conversion therapy suffer from increased risk for suicide, depression, anxiety, shame, and self-hatred.”

The legislation would bar District-licensed mental health providers from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with patients under the age of 18. The legislation would deem providing such therapy unacceptable conduct and would require disciplinary action from the appropriate licensing and regulatory board for that mental health provider. Two other states—California and New Jersey—have already enacted similar laws, and Pennsylvania recently introduced a similar measure.

“By adopting this legislation, we will send a strong message that the District does not believe our LGBT children are sick,” said Cheh. “Moreover, we are recommitting ourselves to ensuring that no child is subject to mental abuse masquerading as science.”


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