Utah Governor Herbert Orders Utah Licensing Board to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 28, 2019

Contact: Shannon Minter – 415-624-6071; Email sminter@nclrights.org

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Yesterday, Utah Governor Gary Herbert released a letter ordering the Utah Psychologist Licensing Board to promulgate regulations protecting youth from efforts by licensed mental health professionals to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.  Governor Herbert ordered the Psychologist Licensing Board “to take the lead on this,’ and then to share its results with other state mental health licensing boards.  The letter also asks the board to “carefully consider how” psychologists can educate families when parents seek such dangerous treatments for their children.

Statement by Mathew Shurka, Conversion Therapy Survivor and Co-Founder of Born Perfect:

“When a state leader of Governor Herbert’s stature speaks out on this important issue, it educates millions of people.  As a survivor, I know that Governor Herbert’s leadership on this issue will save lives.”

Statement by Shannon Minter, Legal Director the National Center for Lesbian Rights:

“This is a huge step forward for LGBTQ youth and their families in Utah.  Governor Herbert is setting a powerful example for other state leaders across the country about how to address the issue of conversion therapy and protect young people from this life-threatening practice.”


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.

Salt Lake County Lawmakers Pass Unanimous Bipartisan Resolution Urging Utah to Bar Conversion Therapy for Minors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 25, 2019

Contact: Shannon Minter – 415-624-6071; Email sminter@nclrights.org

“As I know firsthand, being subjected to conversion therapy is a devastating and traumatizing experience for young people and their families.”

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Today, the Salt Lake County Council passed a unanimous bipartisan resolution urging the Utah Legislature to pass legislation protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy, the life-threatening practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Earlier this year, the Utah Legislature narrowly failed to pass House Bill 399, which would have barred licensed therapists from subjecting minors to conversion therapy.  The bill was sponsored by Representative Craig Hall, a Republican from West Valley City and enjoyed strong bipartisan support, including endorsements by Governor George Herbert and the Utah Department of Social Services.  However, hostile lawmakers derailed the bill at the last minute by offering a substitute bill that would have gutted its protections, dashing hopes for passage in the regular session this year.

Today’s resolution by the Salt Lake County Council notes that “conversion therapy has been associated with high rates of depression and suicidality among minors” and “urges the Utah State Legislature and the Governor of Utah to adopt a statute that protects minors from conversion therapy by prohibiting licensed mental health therapists from subjecting minors to these harmful and discredited practices.”

To date, 18 states and the District of Columbia and more than 50 localities have protected minors from conversion therapy.   Many of these laws were signed by Republican governors and passed with the support of Republican lawmakers.

Statement by Mathew Shurka, Conversion Therapy Survivor and Born Perfect Co-Founder:

“We applaud the Salt Lake County Council for standing up for conversion therapy survivors and letting LGBTQ youth know that they are valued.  As I know firsthand, being subjected to conversion therapy is a devastating and traumatizing experience for young people and their families.  Utah came close to putting a stop to this life-threatening practice earlier this year, and today’s action by the Salt Lake County Council sends a powerful message to Utah lawmakers to finish the job.”

Statement by Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights:

“Lawmakers across the country are working together across partisan lines to protect LGBTQ youth from this dangerous practice, which has been universally rejected by our nation’s leading medical and mental health organizations.  LGBTQ youth are already at a heightened risk of depression and suicide attempts due to the discrimination they face.  Conversion therapy multiplies those risks exponentially.  We are grateful to Salt Lake County for its leadership and for demonstrating that, regardless of their political differences, lawmakers have a shared interest in promoting the health and wellbeing of all youth.”


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. 

NCLR and Born Perfect Applaud Massachusetts for Becoming the 16th State to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 8, 2019
Contact: 
Shannon Minter, NCLR Legal Director
sminter@nclrights.org / 415-624-6071

NCLR AND BORN PERFECT APPLAUD MASSACHUSETTS FOR BECOMING THE 16TH STATE TO PROTECT LGBTQ YOUTH FROM CONVERSION THERAPY

“This is a huge victory for LGBTQ youth and their parents in Massachusetts”

BOSTON, Mass. (April 8, 2019) — Today, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed H140 into law, making Massachusetts the sixteenth state, in addition to Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, to prevent licensed mental health professionals from attempting to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

“This is a huge victory for LGBTQ youth and their parents in Massachusetts,” said Mathew Shurka, strategist for Born Perfect, the national campaign to end conversion therapy.  Shurka, a survivor of conversion therapy, testified about his firsthand experience with the harms caused by conversion therapy to Massachusetts legislators and urged them to pass the bill.  “These unethical practices destroy families and cause lasting harm to young people who urgently need acceptance and support.”

“As in many other states, this has been a truly bipartisan effort to address one of the most important public health issues of our time,”  said Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which provides legal assistance and support to state advocates and legislatures seeking to protect minors from conversion therapy.  “We are grateful to the Massachusetts Coalition to Ban Conversion Therapy for Minors and to the many parents, advocates, therapists, survivors, and elected officials who have worked so hard to educate the legislature and the public about the dangers of conversion therapy.  Special thanks go to Representative Khan and Senator Cyr, the bill’s chief sponsors, and to Republican Governor Charlie Baker for signing the bill.”

Every leading medical and mental health organization in the U.S. has warned that conversion therapy is ineffective and unethical and put minors, in particular, at heightened risk of depression and suicide attempts.  Organizations that have condemned this harmful practice include:  the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, and the National Association of School Psychologists, among others.

A recent study by the Family Acceptance Project found that LGBT youth who are subjected to conversion efforts by parents were nearly twice as likely to attempt suicide as other LGBTQ youth.  Suicide attempts nearly tripled for LGBT young people who reported both home-based efforts to change their sexual orientation by parents and intervention efforts by therapists and religious leaders.

The Williams Institute estimates that about 57,000 LGBTQ young people will receive conversion therapy from therapists or religious counselors before they turn 18.

The Massachusetts bill was supported by NCLR, BornPerfect, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, the Human Rights Campaign, the Trevor Project, the Massachusetts Coalition to Ban Conversion Therapy for Minors, and other local advocacy groups.


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. 

NCLR Settles Consumer Fraud Lawsuit over Conversion Therapy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 26, 2019

Contact: Perry Sacks, psacks@mrss.com, (917) 438-4619

SAN FRANCISCO—Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), along with co-counsel Arnold & Porter, announced a settlement in a lawsuit filed by their client, Kate McCobb, that alleged a California-licensed therapist subjected her to conversion therapy.

Conversion therapy has been discredited by every major medical and mental health organization—including the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, and American Psychiatric Association—as dangerous and unethical. The settlement follows a California court ruling affirming that conversion therapy may constitute consumer fraud. Terms of the settlement are confidential.

“Being a young LGBTQ person can be an overwhelming and isolating experience,” said the plaintiff in this case, Kate McCobb. “I am relieved to have this case behind me so that I can focus on educating other LGBTQ people about the dangers of conversion therapy.”

Although the therapist denies liability in this case, he has stated that he shares Ms. McCobb’s view of conversion therapy.

“Conversion therapy has been shown to lead to increased risk of depression, substance abuse, and even suicide,” said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. “Those across the country who continue to push the myth of conversion therapy should take note: you are engaging in consumer fraud, and we will stand with conversion therapy survivors and help them recoup every dollar.”

Although Ms. McCobb did not seek therapy because of her sexual orientation, the therapist nonetheless focused on her lesbian identity. According to Ms. McCobb, she was told that being a lesbian was unnatural and that she could change her sexual orientation. She was urged to change her appearance to be more stereotypically feminine, including losing weight, growing out her hair, changing her wardrobe, and wearing make-up, and to begin dating men.

“My firm took this case on a pro bono basis because conversion therapy isn’t just ineffective, it’s dangerous,” said Arnold & Porter Partner Jeremy Kamras. “Hopefully this lawsuit will help to end this practice by putting medical professionals on notice that, if they engage in harmful, discredited conversion therapy, they can be subject to civil liability.”

NCLR has been standing up for conversion therapy survivors for more than 20 years. In June 2014, NCLR launched the Born Perfect Campaign to End Conversion Therapy through litigation, public education, and legislation.


The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) was the first national LGBTQ legal organization founded by women and brings a fierce, longstanding commitment to racial and economic justice and our community’s most vulnerable. Since 1977, NCLR has been at the forefront of advancing the civil and human rights of our full LGBTQ community and their families through impact litigation, public policy, and public education. Decades ago, NCLR led the way by establishing the first LGBTQ Immigration Project, Transgender Rights Project, Youth Project, Elder Law Project, and began working to end conversion therapy through what is now the Born Perfect campaign.

www.nclrights.org

NCLR, Born Perfect Applaud Utah Bill to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 21, 2019

CONTACT:
Shannon Minter, sminter@nclrights.org, (415) 624-6071
Perry Sacks, psacks@mrss.com, (917) 438-4619

NCLR AND BORN PERFECT CAMPAIGN APPLAUD INTRODUCTION OF HISTORIC UTAH BILL TO PROTECT LGBTQ YOUTH FROM CONVERSION THERAPY

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the Born Perfect campaign applaud today’s introduction in Utah of historic legislation to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy, the discredited practice of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, which has been denounced by all of the nation’s leading medical and mental health organizations.

The bill, “Prohibition of the Practice of Conversion Therapy upon Minors,” was introduced today by Rep. Craig Hall and Sen. Dan McCay, with support from local LGBTQ advocacy group, Equality Utah.

Statement by Shannon Minter, legal director of NCLR:

“The introduction of Utah’s bill to protect youth from conversion therapy is historic and marks a major milestone in the battle to end these harmful practices. The LDS Church deserves much credit for taking a clear stance against conversion therapy and helping to educate parents about the serious harms that it causes. In a political climate that is increasingly polarized, it is encouraging to see state legislators working together to address this important issue in such a positive way. This is a great day for Utah, which once again is showing that, even in red states, legislators can find a way forward to include and support LGBTQ people.”

Nationwide, 15 states and DC, as well as more than 45 localities, have enacted similar laws, including six statewide laws signed by Republican governors. In addition to Utah, 14 other states have introduced legislation so far this year.

Conversion therapy puts youth at risk of serious harms, including depression and suicide. A 2018 study by Dr. Caitlin Ryan of the Family Acceptance Project found that minors pressured to change their sexual orientation or gender identity were two times more likely to experience depression and nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide.


NCLR’s Born Perfect campaign was started in 2014 with the goal of passing laws across the country to protect LGBT children and young people, fighting in courtrooms to ensure their safety, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by the dangerous practice of conversion therapy.

New York Senate, Assembly Pass Bill to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 15, 2019

Contact:
Lauren Gray, NCLR Communications Director
lgray@nclrights.org / 215-983-3099

New York Senate and Assembly Pass Bill to Prohibit Conversion Therapy for LGBTQ Youth

Once signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York will become the 15th state to pass legislation protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy, and the first state to prohibit the practice in 2019

ALBANY, N.Y. — Today, the New York State Senate and Assembly passed S1046/A576, a bill that protects LGBTQ youth from the practice of conversion therapy. Born Perfect, The National Center for Lesbian Rights’ campaign to end conversion therapy, has worked on the ground since 2013 to advocate for the passage of this landmark bill to stop this harmful and discredited practice. Born Perfect is proud of the work Senator Brad Hoylman, the bill’s sponsor, has done to elevate the voices of survivors and to ensure that New York protects its youth.

“After six years working alongside Assemblymember Glick and Senator Hoylman, I’m proud to see this bill pass for the first time by the New York State Senate. The trauma inflicted on me by conversion therapy is now illegal. This law will save many lives. What’s important now is to ensure that this law is enforced, as we know licensed conversion therapists continue to practice throughout the state” said conversion therapy survivor and Born Perfect Co-Founder Mathew Shurka.  “I look forward to Governor Cuomo signing the bill into law to finally protect LGBTQ youth – a promise he made in 2015, and a promise he said he’d fulfill in the first 100 days of 2019.”

Born and raised in New York, Shurka was subjected to conversion therapy as a minor in Manhattan. Seeing four different licensed therapists over a period of five years, Shurka was separated from his mother and sisters in an effort to “de-feminize” him in order to change his sexual orientation—an experience that resulted in severe trauma, anxiety, depression, and suicidality.

Also referred to as “ex-gay therapy,” “reparative therapy,” or “sexual orientation change efforts,” conversion therapy attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The ineffective and dangerous practice has been discredited by the American Psychological Association—and every other major professional health and mental organization—and can lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and even suicide.  According to the Williams Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles, nearly 700,000 people in the United States have been subjected to conversion therapy, and half of those were minors. A 2018 study by Dr. Caitlin Ryan found that adolescents subjected to conversion therapy were significantly more likely to attempt suicide.  

Once the bill is signed into law, New York will be the 15th state to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy. Media outlets have previously misreported that New York State passed a ban on conversion therapy, mistaking Governor Cuomo’s 2016 Executive Order—which barred health care insurers from supporting conversion therapy—as legislation that fully prohibited conversion therapy statewide.

Today’s bill signing was the result of targeted grassroots advocacy efforts by NCLR, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and local advocacy groups.


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.