House approves ban on ‘conversion therapy’ for children
STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Edith H. Ajello banning “conversion therapy” on children by licensed health care or human services professionals.
The legislation (2017-H 5277A) takes aim at the discredited practice of trying to use various forms of therapy or treatment to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or eliminate or reduce a person’s attraction or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.
“Conversion therapy is worse than ineffective; it can be extremely harmful, especially in children. Sexual orientation, as well as gender identity, is widely recognized by science and medicine as simply innate to a person. It is no more a disease or a condition that needs to be changed than is race or eye color. Putting someone, especially a young person, through conversion therapy can lead them to a host of serious problems including depression, substance abuse, isolation and suicide,” said Representative Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence.)
“Conversion therapy is not a legitimate, scientific, medically recognized therapy, and one should represent it as such. It should not be offered at all, and particularly not by anyone who is a licensed health care provider, to children. Any provider who purports to offer such a bogus and harmful service to children should be subject to license suspension or revocation, for the protection of the public,” continued Representative Ajello.
The bill prohibits licensed health care professionals from advertising or engaging conversion therapy efforts with minors under age 18, and establishes that doing so shall be considered unprofessional conduct, subject to license suspension or revocation. It applies to medical professionals, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, mental health professionals and human services professionals.
Numerous national and international medical associations, including the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, have issued statements against or otherwise taken action against conversion therapy.
At the committee hearing on the bill earlier this spring, testimony was overwhelmingly in favor of the bill. Nearly 90 people testified, many telling compelling, deeply personal stories of their experiences. Only one person testified against the bill.
Currently, conversion therapy for minors is banned in New Jersey, California, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Vermont and New Mexico.
The legislation is cosponsored by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), Rep. Susan R. Donovan (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth), Rep. Aaron Regunberg (D-Dist. 4, Providence) and Rep. Moira J. Walsh (D-Dist. 3, Providence). It will now go the Senate, where Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence) is sponsoring similar legislation (2017-S 0267).
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903