Conversion Therapy Ban Bill filed in Massachusetts

Massachusetts seeks to become the next state to ban conversion therapy for minors

By Cathy Kristofferson, January 18, 2013.

billheaderToday, Massachusetts joined California in the fight against harmful ex-gay conversion/reparative therapy for minors under the age of 18.  Representative Carl Sciortino (D – 34th Middlesex District) filed “An Act Relative to Abusive Practices to Change Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity in Minors,” with the Clerk of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. This is just the first step in what will likely prove a long process and those of us who played only a small role are proud today.

This legislation will ban ‘licensed professionals’ from practicing “sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts” that seek  to change behavioral expression of sexual orientation or gender identity, or to eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings for others of the same gender.  The proposed legislation is careful to not interfere with therapy efforts which seek to provide help and support for sexual orientation or gender identity acceptance.

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Reparative or conversion therapy is well known to be nothing but quackery and includes anything from praying-away-the-gay to electro-shock therapy.  It is defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “a dangerous practice based on the premise that people can change their sexual orientation, literally “converting” from gay to straight.

Conversion therapy has been discredited or highly criticized by virtually all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations.” This type of therapy is notorious for causing serious  harm to youth resulting in anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide, especially when the therapy is forced on them by unaccepting parents.

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Homosexuality and Adolescence, Pediatrics report states:

“Confusion about sexual orientation is not unusual during adolescence. Counseling may be helpful for young people who are uncertain about their sexual orientation or for those who are uncertain about how to express their sexuality and might profit from an attempt at clarification through a counseling or psychotherapeutic initiative. Therapy directed specifically at changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.

If passed, the bill filed in Massachusetts today would be the second, after that filed in the state of California,  where  Senate Bill 1172 (SB 1172) was signed into law last year, banning licensed mental health providers from subjecting minors to sexual orientation conversion efforts.  Pennsylvania and New Jersey are among the states to file similar legislation.

One survivor’s story:

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3 thoughts on “Conversion Therapy Ban Bill filed in Massachusetts

  1. What can I say? I’m so proud of the people in gov’t who are stepping forward and actively working to eliminate the stigma against gay people and to prevent any further harm from being done by groups such as these “conversion” quacks.

    It’s becoming heartening to witness our society, waking up, to the reality that we have always been here. Have always been their friends & relatives. Have always been their leaders, doctors, firemen, police, military, etc…I think that with so many “coming out” recently- from all walks of life & positions in our society, that the average person can no longer bury their heads & pretend that it’s okay to discriminate.

    So, thank you California, yay for Mass., & a hopeful woo-hoo to Penn. & N.J. 🙂

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