The Maryland State Legislature recently passed a measure that would ban the practice of conversion therapy on minors. The bill now goes to Governor Hogan for his signature.
The legislation would impose fines or license suspension or revocation on mental health professionals who engage in the discredited practice. Maryland would become the 12th state to ban conversion therapy on minors, along with the District of Columbia.
The American Counseling Association (ACA) takes the position that conversion therapy does not work, can cause harm, and attempts to "convert" sexual orientation, which is not recognized by the medical community as a disorder. It is a violation of the ACA code of ethics.
ACA followed the progress of the Maryland House and Senate bills, and encouraged its Maryland members to ask their representatives in Annapolis to support a conversion therapy ban. ACA members sent 321 messages in support of this legislation to their representatives.
“I applaud the Maryland legislature for this important step,” ACA Chief Executive Officer Richard Yep said. “When we take all of the facts into consideration, what we are left with is the reality that efforts to change sexual orientation from homosexuality to heterosexuality do not work, have the potential to do great harm, and are aimed at treating a mental health problem that does not exist. The mental health community has spoken in a clear voice that this practice should not be condoned. By signing this legislation, Governor Hogan will prevent one of Maryland’s most vulnerable populations—children—from being subjected to a very painful and damaging experience.”
The American Psychological Association (APA) study, “Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation” provides evidence that conversion therapy is both ineffective and harmful. For this study, the APA conducted a systematic review of the available research on sexual orientation change efforts—83 studies in all. The APA concluded in its report that: "efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm." The report documented that up to 50 percent of the participants in conversion therapy practices reported harmful effects from the attempt to change their sexual orientation.