FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 5, 2020
Christopher Vasquez, NCLR Communications Director
firstname.lastname@example.org / (415) 365-1337
Shawn Gaylord, Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus Executive Director
Shawn.Gaylord@mail.house.org / (202) 225-2305
Born Perfect Co-Founder Mathew Shurka Joins Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus & Special Guests to Discuss LGBTQ Youth Issues, Ending Conversion Therapy
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Mathew Shurka, Co-Founder of the Born Perfect Campaign, joins the LGBTQ Equality Caucus in Washington, D.C., today to meet with members of Congress to discuss issues facing LGBTQ youth in America – including ending federal funding of the life-threatening practice of conversion therapy.
Shurka and the Caucus will be joined by special guests Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons and Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees, Co-Founders of the LOVELOUD Foundation, along with LOVELOUD Board member Carmen Carrera from season 3 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
“Over a period of five years, my parents paid more than thirty-five thousand dollars to licensed practitioners who fraudulently promised to cure my homosexuality,” said Mathew Shurka, a conversion therapy survivor and Co-Founder of Born Perfect. “As a 16-year-old when I was first sent to conversion therapy, I trusted the professionals who treated me, and my parents trusted them as well. There was no one to protect my family or to make sure we understood that conversion therapy is a discredited practice that has no basis in medical science and will harm me for the rest of my life. I am grateful to be here today advocating with the Equality Caucus and my team at Born Perfect to ensure that other families do not go through the harm that my family and I suffered.”
Currently, 19 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 60 municipalities have adopted measures to protect LGBTQ youth from the practice that every leading medical and mental health organization in this country has rejected as ineffective and dangerous for minors.
“Conversion ‘therapy’ isn’t therapy at all – it’s a harmful, discredited and illegitimate practice that threatens the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ people throughout the country,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus Co-Chair. “I’m proud to team up with such powerful activists and allies to raise awareness of this important issue and get my bill banning taxpayer-funded conversion ‘therapy’ brought to the House floor for a vote.”
“I was grateful to participate in today’s briefing to discuss our shared goal of ending conversion therapy across the country,” said Rep. Ted W. Lieu, Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus Vice-Chair. “Conversion therapy is a fraudulent practice based on the prejudiced belief that someone can or should change their sexual orientation or gender identity. One of the proudest moments of my career was authoring California’s statewide conversion therapy ban. And today, building support for and passing the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act could not be more important. I look forward to working with Mathew and Born Perfect, Representative Maloney, the survivors and advocates to end this scam and enact a federal ban.”
“LOVELOUD’s goal as both a festival and foundation is to empower LGBTQ+ youth and arm them with the tools to go back and create change in their own communities,” said Dan Reynolds, lead vocalist for Imagine Dragons and Co-Founder of LOVELOUD. “Another thing we’re learning, though, is that we also need to come together and do the hard work to make a difference in the long term. That’s why we’re in DC.” The Born Perfect campaign is a grantee of the LOVELOUD Foundation.
Reynolds has been an ally to the LGBTQ community and has used his position as a celebrity to advocate against the practice of conversion therapy. He is also the producer of the 2018 documentary “Believer,” which examines the intersection between LGBT people and the Mormon church. Reynolds, Glenn, and Carrera, in conjunction with the Equality Caucus, the LOVELOUD Foundation, Universal Music Group, and the Motion Picture Association, will host a special screening of “Believer” and a talkback later this evening.
“LOVELOUD began with the youth who came to us and shared their own incredible stories,” said Tyler Glenn, vocalist for Neon Trees and Co-Founder of LOVELOUD. “We’re all so excited for the opportunity to continue sharing those stories here in DC, and we’re grateful to the nonprofits who forward our mission and to everyone on the Hill who we’ll be meeting with.”
For more than 25 years, NCLR has been leading the fight against conversion therapy. Since 2014, NCLR’s Born Perfect campaign has brought survivors and legal experts together to support legislation protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy.
“LGBTQ+ youth who aren’t accepted in their families experience higher rates of depression, suicide, and drug abuse, yet conversion therapy is only banned in 19 states. That is unacceptable – we’re committed to changing this and we’re thankful to be working with legislators who also want to make sure all queer youth have a chance at the best life possible,” said Carmen Carrera, a contestant on the third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Momentum on this work continues to build, with a record-breaking number of states and localities taking action to protect youth, most recently the State of Utah in January. On Monday, the Virginia House of Delegates approved a bill that would protect youth from conversion therapy in that state. The Virginia bill, already approved by the Virginia Senate, now just needs reconciliation in both houses before heading to the Governor’s office. If signed, Virginia would become the 20th state to end the practice on minors.
According to an estimate from the Williams Institute from UCLA Law, more than 350,000 LGBTQ minors have been subjected to conversion therapy, which studies have linked to these youths being more than twice as likely to experience depression, and nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide.
Founded in 2008, the mission of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality. The Caucus, which is led by the seven openly LGBT members of Congress, is strongly committed to achieving the full enjoyment of human rights for LGBT people in the U.S. and around the world. The Caucus Co-Chairs are David Cicilline (RI- 01), Angie Craig (MN-02), Sharice Davids (KS-03), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), and Mark Takano (CA-41). https://lgbt-cicilline.house.gov/
Founded in 2017 by Dan Reynolds, the LOVELOUD Foundation, is a catalyst to bring communities and families together to help ignite the vital conversation about what it means to unconditionally love our LGBTQ+ youth. LOVELOUD offers hope to young people, letting them know they’re not alone and encouraging acceptance in the home and community. https://loveloudfest.com/foundation
Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.