New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu (R), Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) and Hawaii Governor David Ige (D) recently signed into law in their states measures that ban the practice of conversion therapy on minors.
The new laws impose fines, or license suspension or revocation, for mental health professionals who engage in the discredited practice. With these signed bills, 14 states and the District of Columbia will now ban conversion therapy on minors.
ACA Supports the New Laws
“I congratulate the New Hampshire, Maryland and Hawaii legislatures for this important step,” American Counseling Association Chief Executive Officer Richard Yep said. “By signing this legislation, Governor Sununu, Governor Hogan and Governor Ige will prevent some of our most vulnerable populations—children and youth—from being subjected to a very painful and damaging experience.”
“When all the facts are taken into consideration, we are left with 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,” Yep said.
The American Counseling Association (ACA) followed the progress of the New Hampshire, Maryland and Hawaii bills, and encouraged its members to ask their representatives in Concord, Annapolis and Honolulu to support a conversion therapy ban. ACA members sent 387 messages in support of this legislation to their representatives, through the ACA VoterVoice grassroots advocacy system.
The Background for ACA Support
The American Counseling Association 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. The ACA Governing Council “Resolution on Reparative Therapy/Conversion Therapy/Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) as a Significant and Serious Violation of the ACA Code of Ethics” is available online here.
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. The 140-page APA study is available online in its entirety.here.