December 21, 2020

Contact: Christopher Vasquez, NCLR Communications Director
cvasquez@nclrights.org / (415) 365-1337

“So-called conversion therapy has harmed hundreds of thousands of Americans, leaving LGBTQ youth and their families with a lifetime of pain.”

ATLANTA, GA — The Born Perfect campaign submitted a friend-of-the-court brief on Friday urging reversal of a recent decision by a three-judge federal panel validating the dangerous unethical practice known as conversion therapy. These treatments claim to change sexual orientation or gender identity and they have been shown to make LGBTQ children nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide.     

“So-called conversion therapy has harmed hundreds of thousands of Americans, leaving LGBTQ youth and their families with a lifetime of pain,” said Mathew Shurka, Co-Founder and Chief Strategist of Born Perfect, the national campaign to end the harmful practice of conversion therapy. As a teenager, Shurka went through five years of conversion therapy and now works to protect other young people from enduring the harm that he and his family experienced as a result.

“There is tremendous evidence that conversion therapy is dangerous and has no place in our society,” said Shurka. “With the support of every major medical and mental health association, we feel an urgency to make sure that every parent knows these deadly practices have no scientific credibility  and that every child deserves love and support.”     

Conversion therapy is a discredited practice that claims it can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Extensive research has shown that this practice does not work and puts patients at risk of severe harm. Many Florida localities, including the City of Boca Raton and the County of Palm Beach, have passed ordinances barring state-licensed therapists from performing conversion therapy on children under 18.

The brief explains that the panel decision disregarded a “litany of studies, position papers from medical organizations, and other evidence from mental health professionals and community members demonstrating that conversion therapy is harmful to children, including by increasing the risk of suicidality.”

In 2018, an anti-LGBTQ legal group filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Boca Raton and Palm Beach County laws on behalf of two licensed therapists who wish to engage in conversion therapy with minors. In February 2019, a federal district court denied the therapists’ request for a preliminary order preventing enforcement of the law, ruling that the plaintiffs were unlikely to succeed in their challenge. The plaintiffs appealed, and on November 20, a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit reversed, holding that the First Amendment prevents local governments from protecting youth from these discredited practices. Boca Raton and Palm Beach County have asked the full Eleventh Circuit to overrule this outlier decision.

Every major medical and mental health professional association, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association, has condemned conversion therapy.


Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign created by the National Center for Lesbian Right (NCLR) in 2014 to end conversion therapy by passing laws across the country that protect LGBT children and young people, fighting in courtrooms to ensure their safety, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by these dangerous practices. http://bornperfect.org/