If you are not aware of “conversion therapy,” the odious idea behind it is to push lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people to change their sexual orientation. It treats any sexual orientation other than heterosexuality as a disease to be cured. It is typically pushed by religious groups and incorporates prayer or other elements of religion. New Jersey is one of several states to pass legislation to stop licensed mental health providers from offering conversion therapy to young people. It is time to stop the practice all over the country as a recent government report details.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration issued a report condemning the practice. The report indicated that there is no evidence supporting the notion that sexual orientation is something that can be “cured.” The report goes on to say that pressuring young people to conform to a gender expression or identity is inappropriate and “reinforces harmful gender stereotypes.” This is a mild way to say that the practices involved in conversion therapy are disgusting, scientifically unsound and embarrassing in this day and age.
Congress is currently considering a bill that would correctly identify conversion therapy as a form of fraud. The Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act was introduced earlier this year and would make conversion therapy illegal. Conversion therapy is more than just misguided and ineffective; it is actively harmful. Children forced to undergo this type of abuse are likely to suffer health impacts. LGBT young people already suffer homelessness, substance abuse problems and depression at elevated rates. They do not need licensed therapists treating sexual orientation as something that can be changed through religious browbeating.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Federal Report Calls For End To ‘Conversion Therapy’ For LGBT Youth,” by Amanda Terkel, 15 October 2015