(Washington, D.C., December 22, 2014)—Today, Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill that protects youth and their families from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy. D.C. is among a growing number of states to pass or consider such laws, which reflect the unanimous view of medical, mental health, and child welfare experts that attempts by therapists to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity are ineffective and unsafe, putting youth at risk of severe depression and suicide attempts.
California and New Jersey have already enacted similar laws, and more than a dozen states have introduced legislation similar to that enacted in D.C. Both the Ninth and Third Circuits have rejected attempts by anti-LGBTQ organizations to challenge the laws, holding that they are a valid exercise of states’ authority to protect public health and safety.
“This law ensures that mental health practitioners can no longer abuse their power to harm young people and families by propagating the dangerous lie that there is something wrong with being LGBTQ or that therapy can change their core sexual orientation or gender identity,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Staff Attorney and #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator Sam Ames. “By signing this bill into law, Mayor Gray has taken an important step to protect the health and safety of LGBTQ youth and to prevent unscrupulous therapists from preying on vulnerable families.”
The National Center for Lesbian Rights has been a leader in the movement to protect youth and their families from these dangerous practices and helped pass legislation in California and New Jersey. Earlier this year, NCLR launched its #BornPerfect campaign to end conversion therapy across the country over the next five years by passing laws, fighting in courtrooms, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by attempts to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
NCLR and other organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, played a key role in organizing the coalition behind D.C.’s Youth Protection Act, which was authored by Councilmember Mary M. Cheh.
Learn more about #BornPerfect at www.NCLRights.org/BornPerfect.