Thursday, the Oregon State Senate passed HB 2307, a bill that will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy. The bill was overwhelmingly approved by the State House on March 17 and is now heading to the desk of Governor Kate Brown who is expected to sign it into law.
When signed into law, Oregon will become the fourth jurisdiction – behind California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia – to pass legislation protecting LGBT youth from the serious harms caused by these practices, which have been linked to substance abuse, serious depression, and even suicide.
“This lifesaving law will protect the health and well-being of LGBT youth in Oregon and ensure that licensed mental health professionals cannot abuse their position of trust to do lifelong harm to children and tear families apart. We applaud Basic Rights Oregon and bill champions Rep. Rob Nosse and Sen. Sara Gesler for their unshakeable leadership in guiding this bill through the legislative process, as well as the courageous survivors who testified on its behalf,” said the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator and Staff Attorney Samantha Ames.
“Without their willingness to share their stories, sacrifice their privacy, and at times even come face-to-face with the very unethical therapists responsible for their trauma, this legislation would not have passed. We all owe them an enormous debt of gratitude, one we can only repay by promising we will continue this fight until the day no child knows the devastation of being told they were born anything but perfect,” Ames added.
“No young person should be subjected to this extremely harmful and discredited practice that uses fear and shame to tell them the only way to find love or acceptance is to change the very nature of who they are,” said the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Psychological abuse has no place in therapy, no matter the intention. While the LGBT youth in Oregon will soon be protected once this bill is signed into law, HRC and our allies are committed to making sure these kinds of protections are secured in every state.”
NCLR and the Human Rights Campaign, in conjunction with Basic Rights Oregon and other groups, played a key role in organizing the coalition behind the bill, which was sponsored by State Representative Rob Nosse. A broad range of groups supported HB 2307, including national LGBT organizations, mental health organizations, faith leaders, youth advocates, and civil rights organizations.
HRC and NCLR have partnered with state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation to end this dangerous practice, including laws passed in California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia. In August of 2013, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld California’s ban which was signed into law by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown in 2012. On Monday May 4, 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision to upheld New Jersey’s ban which was signed into law by Republican Governor Chris Christie in August of 2013. NCLR attorneys have assisted in the defense of every state bill to date.
More information on the lies and dangers of efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity can be found at NCLRights.org/BornPerfect.