House votes to ban Conversion Therapy

Just in time for the conclusion of pride month, State Representative Mike Connolly joined his Cambridge and Somerville colleagues to vote in support of H.1190, An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors.

The bill prohibits licensed health care providers including physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, allied mental health and human service professionals, marriage and family therapists, rehabilitation counselors, mental health counselors, and educational psychologist from advertising for or engaging in conversion therapy with minors.

“I am proud to cast my vote to end this harmful practice which has no scientific basis and is rooted in bigotry” Rep. Connolly said.

Conversion therapy is a coercive and harmful practice that attempts to reduce or eliminate same-sex attraction or transgender identity through shame and aversive conditioning.  The American Psychiatric Association outlines associated risks for youth who engage in conversion therapy including: depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior.

A licensed healthcare provider who violates this ban will be subject to discipline buy their licensing board which may include suspension or the revocation of their license, and shall be considered to have violated the unfair or deceptive act section of the Consumer Protection Statute.

The Bill will not prohibit the practice of medically sound therapeutic practices such as providing support, acceptance, and understanding of a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity, or providing information about safe sex practices.

Rep. Connolly would like to thank the bill sponsor, Rep. Kay Khan, for her leadership on this issue, as well as former Somerville Rep. Carl Sciortino for first introducing this legislation, and the coalition to ban conversion therapy which includes but is not limited to: Mass Equality, AIDS Action, the ACLU of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Psychological Association, and the National Association of Social Workers – MA.