Last week, Governor Cuomo of New York announced regulations that will ban public and private healthcare insurers from covering so-called gay conversion therapy and prohibit state mental health facilities from conducting the controversial practice on minors. This is big news. New York joins five other states and the District of Columbia in banning the practice for anyone under the age of 18. California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon passed such laws for good reason: all of the nation’s leading professional medical and mental health associations condemn conversion therapy as unnecessary, ineffective, and dangerous. Groups like the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics caution that the practice–which includes inducing nausea and providing electric shocks–does not work and warn patients that they may be harmful.
Equality Federation is proud to partner with state-based organizations working on this important, proactive issue. While many of our current legislative battles are spent fighting back bad bills, banning conversion therapy is one area where we can gain positive ground.
Through our Legislative Action Center, the Federation is tracking bills in 16 states seeking to ban conversion therapy on minors under the age of 18. These states include the following where the Federation has strong and active members:
- New Mexico
- West Virginia
Sadly, Virginia’s senate committee recently struck down a bill that would have banned conversion therapy on minors in the commonwealth. “We cannot continue to allow our youth to be put through this so-called ‘treatment’ that can cause depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior. At best, allowing this harmful treatment on our youth is irresponsible, and at worse, it could contribute to the unthinkable,” said James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia.
To support even more support to all of our members’ efforts on this issue, the Federation is convening a Legislative Action Call on this topic. Sam Ames from the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Alison Gill, Esq., both experts on conversion therapy bans, will lead a webinar and discussion for over 30 participants from nearly 20 states, offering both analysis and strategy. Together we will win!