LGBT Advocacy Groups Seek Ban on Sexual Reparative Therapy for Minor Youth
The bill, House Bill H. 154, authored by Democratic state Representative Carl Sciortino, (D-Medford), received its first public scrutiny Tuesday afternoon in a session of the Legislature’s Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities.
If passed, the bill would prohibit any licensed healthcare professional in Massachusetts from using techniques or therapies that would otherwise try change the ‘‘sexual orientation or gender identity’’ of anyone under 18 years old.If a licensed physician or professional in the field were found in violation of the proposed legislation, he or she could face a statewide suspension of their practice or have their license revoked.
Appearing before state lawmakers Tuesday were members from the LGBT advocacy groups the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), MassEquality, and Fenway Health.
During the hearing, Ben Klein, a senior attorney for GLAD, testified:
“GLAD strongly supports this bill, which we believe is a significant step to creating a better, more affirming world for LGBT youth,” said Klein.
“Passage of this bill will send an important message that sexual orientation and gender identity do not need changing. Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is normal and healthy.”
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Klein noted:
“[It] is a disgraceful chapter in our society’s mistreatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. It’s been proven ineffective, it defies modern medicine, and it inflicts serious psychological harm on young people.”
Conversion therapy has been discredited or highly criticized by all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations.
An August 2009 report by the American Psychological Association Task Force on “Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation,” stated:
"[...] efforts to change someone’s sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve major risks of harm to an individual both mentally and physically, contrary to the claims from professionals who subscribe to the practice."
Most healthcare professionals now agree that same-sex attraction, and orientation(s) are considered normal and positive variants of human sexuality which don't indicate mental or developmental disorders.
Last month, Exodus International, the nation’s oldest and largest Christian ministry devoted to performing controversial gay-to-straight “reparative therapy,” announced that it is shuttering its operations after more than three decades.
In announcing its decision, president Alan Chambers, 41, repudiated the organization’s mission and said he was “sorry for the pain and hurt” so many experienced by the group’s efforts to “repair” their sexual orientation.