(Austin, March 13, 2015)—Today, Texas State Representative Celia Israel introduced a bill that would protect youth and their families from the discredited practice of conversion therapy. The bill—3495—reflects 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 lifelong damage, including depression, substance abuse, isolation, and even suicide.
“Time and again we see the psychological wreckage from so-called conversion therapy and it has to stop,” said Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas. “Even onetime champions of this dangerous technique have changed their minds as the evidence piles up that such ‘therapy’ doesn’t work and, worse, is dangerous. Rep. Israel’s leadership here is welcome and puts the wellbeing of children first.”
The nation’s leading medical and mental health experts – including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics – have all condemned conversion therapy. Yet, in June 2014, the Texas Republican Party adopted an official party platform that embraces conversion therapy and ignores the warnings of every major medical and mental health association in the country.
“No child should be subjected to this extremely harmful and discredited so-called therapy,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “These harmful practices are based on the false claim that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that should be cured, using fear and shame to tell young people that the only way to find love or acceptance is to change the very nature of who they are. Psychological abuse has no place in therapy, no matter the intention.”
“Today, more than ever, it is clear that LGBTQ youth and their families need accurate information about the dangers of these unscientific and unethical practices, and this bill is a powerful educational tool. For the first time in history, laws like this are shining a light on an issue that has remained in the shadows for too long,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Staff Attorney and #BornPerfect Campaign coordinator Sam Ames. “We commend Representative Israel on making the lives of LGBTQ children a priority, as well all the local organizers who have worked tirelessly to get this bill introduced and ensure all Texans have the opportunity to grow up in a safe community where they are loved for exactly who they are.”
California, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. have already enacted laws protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy, and more than a dozen states have introduced similar legislation. Both the Ninth and Third Circuits have rejected attempts by anti-LGBTQ organizations to challenge the California and New Jersey laws, holding that they are a valid exercise of states’ authority to protect public health and safety.
In August of 2013, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld California’s ban which was signed into law by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown in 2012. In September of this year, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld New Jersey’s ban which was signed into law by Republican Governor Chris Christie in August of 2013. NCLR attorneys have assisted in the defense of every state bill to date.
Equality Texas, HRC, and NCLR are playing key roles in organizing the coalition behind the Texas bill.
Learn more about #BornPerfect at NCLRights.org/BornPerfect.