Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo counties) introduced the Stop Harming Our Kids (SHOK) Resolution Tuesday, which calls on states to ban on LGBT conversion therapy. The SHOK Resolution is the first proposed federal action to put an end to these practices, and Speier is also pursuing the possibility of a full federal ban of the practice.
Speier announced the resolution at a press conference featuring Sam Brinton, a survivor of LGBT conversion efforts, and representatives from Human Rights Campaign, the Trevor Project, PFLAG, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker will introduce companion legislation in the Senate.
“It’s time to end this abusive quackery masquerading as medicine,” said Speier. “Being transgender, gay, lesbian, or bisexual is not a disease to be cured or a mental illness that requires treatment. That view has been rejected as scientifically invalid by the American Psychiatric Association and many other mental health groups for nearly 40 years.”
SHOK calls on states to protect minors from efforts that promote or promise to change sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, on the premise that homosexuality is a mental illness or developmental disorder that can or should be cured. On April 8, 2015, the White House called for an end to conversion therapy in response to more than 120,000 Americans signing a petition calling for action on whitehouse.gov.
It is a powerful form of family rejection that can pose serious health risks. Minors who experience family rejection based on their sexual orientation are 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide; 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression; and 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs. Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered is not a disease to be cured or a mental illness that requires treatment.
“No young person should be subject to the harmful and debunked practice of conversion therapy,” said David Stacy, the government affairs director at Human Rights Campaign. “Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth must be given the opportunity to learn who they are in supportive environments. I commend Rep. Jackie Speier for her leadership on this important issue.”
“Thank you to the members of Congress who support this resolution, sending the unequivocal message that so-called conversion therapy is dangerous and detrimental,” said Elizabeth R. Kohm, deputy executive director at PFLAG National. “At PFLAG, we have seen firsthand the harms of this practice, and we know—from more than forty years of work with thousands of families—that what LGBTQ youth need most of all is unconditional love and support.”
“The Trevor Project fully supports Congressperson Jackie Speier’s Stop Harming Our Kids Resolution,” said Abbe Land, CEO and executive director of The Trevor Project. “Parents, families, and young people often seek mental health professionals to find trustworthy help and support. Instead, too many youth are placed in what is called conversion therapy– a discredited practice grounded in homophobia, transphobia, and discrimination. So-called conversion therapy is a dangerous and discredited practice that is based on the false claim that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that needs to be cured; a view with no scientific basis. Our organization has been a leader in the fight to ban conversion therapy in the District of Columbia and New Jersey; we look forward to a day when it is banned on a national level.”
“We applaud Congresswoman Speier for her genuine leadership and commitment to protecting young people and their families from the dangers of these widely discredited practices,” said Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “We are proud to stand with the Congresswoman in urging every state to adopt legislation to ensure that no young person or vulnerable family is exploited by mental health professionals peddling devastatingly harmful psychological practices as a way to fix something in our children that was not broken in the first place.”
“We must put a stop to the dangerous practice of reparative therapy and Congresswoman Speier’s Stop Harming Our Kids resolution is an important step in that direction,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Discredited by every major mental health organization in the U.S., these unsafe programs take advantage of vulnerable transgender and LGB kids and their parents. Today’s resolution draws attention to these baseless programs and encourages states to take steps to protect minors from these efforts.”
“So-called conversion therapy can hurt children and wreck entire families,” Hayley Gorenberg, deputy legal director of Lambda Legal. “The sooner we understand the reality that there’s nothing wrong with who LGBT people are, the better. Lambda Legal hopes the SHOK resolution adds momentum needed to arrive at that conclusion.”