On May 15, 2018, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed the state’s Youth Mental Health Protection Act, prohibiting state-licensed therapists from trying to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a patient under 18 years old. Every leading medical and mental health organization in the country has warned that these practices do not work and put young people at risk of serious harm, including depression, substance abuse, and suicide.
In January 2019, an anti-LGBTQ legal group filed a federal lawsuit challenging the new law on behalf of Christopher Doyle, a therapist and advocate of conversion therapy. In March 2019, NCLR filed an amicus brief urging dismissal of the case on behalf of FreeState Justice, Maryland’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization and a primary supporter of the law during the legislative process. The brief urged the court to uphold the law in light of the overwhelming consensus of medical and mental health professionals that conversion therapy poses a serious risk to the health and well-being of Maryland’s youth. In September 2019, the federal district court in Maryland upheld the law and rejected Doyle’s challenge. Doyle appealed, and NCLR again filed a brief on behalf of FreeState Justice urging the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm the district court’s decision upholding the law.
FreeState Justice is represented in the case by NCLR, Lambda Legal, and Jennifer Kent of FreeState Justice.
For more on our casework combatting conversion therapy, learn more about our Born Perfect campaign.