NCLR Welcomes Congresswoman Speier’s Resolution Calling on States to Protect LGBT Youth from Conversion Therapy

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (April 14, 2015)—Today, U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14th) introduced the “Stop Harming Our Kids” (SHOK) Resolution of 2015, calling on states to pass laws protecting LGBT youth from conversion therapy, a set of dangerous and discredited practices that falsely claim to be able to change sexual orientation and gender identity. Congresswoman Speier has been a longtime advocate for efforts to end conversion therapy, having introduced a similar resolution in 2012. Her move comes one week after the White House, Surgeon General, and other national leaders joined the call to support LGBT youth by ending these ineffective and harmful practices for good.

“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 National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Executive Director Kate Kendell. “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 to fix something in our children that was not broken in the first place.”

NCLR #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator Sam Ames added: “We are honored to fight shoulder to shoulder with Congresswoman Speier, as we have for years, to finally put an end to conversion therapy for good. While the events of the last week have been historic, the introduction of the SHOK Resolution marks the next step in a much longer journey. Today is not a day to declare victory, but a day to recommit ourselves to the vision of a world where no child contemplates taking their own life just because they are LGBTQ.”

NCLR started its Youth Project more than two decades ago to ensure the safety and well-being of LGBT youth at home, in school, and in public systems of care through litigation, policy advocacy, and systemic reform. The project prioritizes full integration and affirmation of transgender youth, fair and equal treatment of LGBT youth in out-of-home care, and ending conversion therapy through NCLR’s #BornPerfect™ campaign.


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.

White House Calls on States to Protect LGBT Youth from Conversion Therapy

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 10, 2015)—Today, Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., the United States Surgeon General, joined a growing chorus of high-profile advocates looking to support LGBT youth and put an end to the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy. His statement comes two days after the White House released a statement in response to a petition prompted by the death of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teenager from Kings Mills, Ohio, who took her own life in December 2014 after facing years of rejection and enduring conversion therapy.

In a statement presented by White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett on April 8, the White House called for state and federal action to protect minors from conversion therapy. Today, on a call with petition signatories, the Surgeon General weighed in as well: “Being gay is not a disorder. Being transgender is not a malady that requires a cure. Had I been Leelah Alcorn’s physician, I would have told her exactly that. And that’s the message I want other doctors, nurses, health professionals, and public health leaders to help get out to parents and children who may be confronting these issues.”

National Center for Lesbian Right’s (NCLR) #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator and Staff Attorney Sam Ames said: “Yesterday, the President of the United States send a clear message to LGBT youth all across the country: You matter. Today, the Surgeon General sent them another message: You are not broken. Tonight, an LGBTQ child who has been trapped in the closet for as long as they can remember will draw on the courage of our nation’s highest leaders and experts to declare who they are, with the full support of their President, their Surgeon General, and their country behind them. And it will be clearer than ever that what that child needs, what all children need, is to be accepted, supported, and loved for exactly who they are.”

NCLR started its Youth Project more than two decades ago to ensure the safety and well-being of LGBT youth at home, in school, and in public systems of care through litigation, policy advocacy, and systemic reform. The project prioritizes full integration and affirmation of transgender youth, fair and equal treatment of LGBT youth in out-of-home care, and ending conversion therapy through NCLR’s #BornPerfect™ campaign.


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.

Equality Texas, HRC, and NCLR Applaud Introduction of Bill to Protect Kids from Conversion Therapy in Texas

AUSTIN, Texas (March 13, 2015)—Today, Texas State Representative Celia Israel introduced a bill that would protect youth and their families from the discredited practice of conversion therapy. The bill—3495—reflects the unanimous view of medical, mental health, and child welfare experts that attempts by therapists to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity are ineffective and unsafe, putting youth at risk of lifelong damage, including depression, substance abuse, isolation, and even suicide.

“Time and again we see the psychological wreckage from so-called conversion therapy and it has to stop,” said Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas. “Even onetime champions of this dangerous technique have changed their minds as the evidence piles up that such ‘therapy’ doesn’t work and, worse, is dangerous. Rep. Israel’s leadership here is welcome and puts the wellbeing of children first.”

The nation’s leading medical and mental health experts – including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics – have all condemned conversion therapy. Yet, in June 2014, the Texas Republican Party adopted an official party platform that embraces conversion therapy and ignores the warnings of every major medical and mental health association in the country.

“No child should be subjected to this extremely harmful and discredited so-called therapy,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “These harmful practices are based on the false claim that being LGBT is a mental illness that should be cured, using fear and shame to tell young people that the only way to find love or acceptance is to change the very nature of who they are. Psychological abuse has no place in therapy, no matter the intention.”

“Today, more than ever, it is clear that LGBT youth and their families need accurate information about the dangers of these unscientific and unethical practices, and this bill is a powerful educational tool. For the first time in history, laws like this are shining a light on an issue that has remained in the shadows for too long,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Staff Attorney and #BornPerfect Campaign coordinator Sam Ames. “We commend Representative Israel on making the lives of LGBT children a priority, as well all the local organizers who have worked tirelessly to get this bill introduced and ensure all Texans have the opportunity to grow up in a safe community where they are loved for exactly who they are.”

California, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. have already enacted laws protecting LGBT youth from conversion therapy, and more than a dozen states have introduced similar legislation. Both the Ninth and Third Circuits have rejected attempts by anti-LGBT organizations to challenge the California and New Jersey laws, holding that they are a valid exercise of states’ authority to protect public health and safety.

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. In September of this year, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals 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.

Equality Texas, HRC, and NCLR are playing key roles in organizing the coalition behind the Texas bill.


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 Dinah Garden Party in Palm Springs Celebrates Progress as Marriage Case Moves to Supreme Court

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (March 11, 2015)—The National Center for Lesbian Rights will be celebrating the progress made in the movement for LGBT equality—from protecting LGBT youth from conversion therapy to fighting for marriage equality before the U.S. Supreme Court—at its annual Dinah Garden Party on April 4 in Palm Springs.

NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell and NCLR Government Policy Director Geoff Kors will provide an update on NCLR’s work shaping the legal landscape for every member of the LGBT community, including its works to protect LGBT athletes, immigrants, parents, youth, and its landmark Tennessee marriage case that the Supreme Court will hear on April 28th.

“It’s finally here! After decades of work, this is the year that marriage equality may become the law of the land.” said Kors, who resides in Palm Springs. “We’re on the cusp of winning one of our biggest victories yet. But the fight is not over until every single member of our community can live safely, openly and authentically. There are many issues affecting LGBT people and NCLR will be here until every single member of our community has full equality under the law.”

Since its start in 1977, NCLR has embraced every aspect of the diverse LGBT community through its work, recognizing that the community comes from many different backgrounds and faces a wide range of issues. NCLR has always been on the cutting edge of legal and social issues, and was the first legal organization to create permanent projects for same-sex binational couples, LGBT asylum seekers, LGBT elders, transgender people, LGBT farmworkers, LGBT youth, low-income LGBT people seeking services from legal aid organizations, and LGBT athletes and coaches.

The event will be held on April 4, 2015 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Kors and his husband, Palm Springs School Board Member James Williamson’s home.


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.

Oklahoma’s Sally Kern Wants Special State Protection For Dangerous Anti-LGBT Psychological Abuse

OKLAHOMA CITY (February 23, 2015)—Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and Freedom Oklahoma condemned an extreme anti-LGBT Oklahoma bill that attacks Oklahoma children and seeks to legitimize so-called “conversion therapy,” the dangerous and discredited practices linked to lifelong damage including depression, substance abuse, and even suicide. The bill is backed by anti-LGBT State Rep. Sally Kern and will be the subject of a public hearing on Tuesday in the House Committee on Children, Youth, and Family Services, which is also chaired by Rep. Kern.

The “Freedom to Obtain Conversion Therapy Act (HB 1598)” attempts to legitimize and provide special state protections for the ineffective and harmful practice of conversion therapy, which has been denounced by every major medical and mental health association in the country, including the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association. The bill is the first of its kind in the United States.

HRC and NCLR will submit written testimony to the committee highlighting the dangers and consequences of the bill.

Representatives from HRC, NCLR, and Freedom Oklahoma issued the following statements:

“Rep. Kern’s assault on LGBT youth in Oklahoma is shockingly reprehensible,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “So-called conversion ‘therapy’ uses fear and shame, telling young people that the only way to find love or acceptance is to change the very nature of who they are. Psychological abuse has no place in therapy, no matter the intention, and for Rep. Kern to use her stature to tell young people that who they are is bad or wrong, is both immoral and seriously harmful.”

Added NCLR staff attorney and #BornPerfect campaign coordinator Sam Ames: “Rep. Kern’s proposal to legalize the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy on LGBT children is appallingly irresponsible. All children deserve to be loved, accepted, and supported by their communities. Every day, we work with parents and families who deeply regret the anguish they caused their children by forcing them to try and change who they are. This horrifying bill is a wake-up call for Oklahoma and the entire country. There is no place in our communities for these ineffective and harmful practices, which have been condemned by every major medical and mental health association in the country. No child deserves to be told that they were born anything but perfect.”

“So-called ‘conversion therapy’ is an abuse of the term therapy, and it is abuse in no uncertain terms,” added Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director Troy Stevenson. “Every reputable medical and physiological association in the nation has come out against this torturous quackery. To be crystal clear, Rep. Kern’s bill – HB 1598 – is an attempt to promote and support child abuse. It would create a special privileged class of abuse with no oversight, regulation, or avenue for protection. We are calling on all fair-minded Oklahomans to speak out. We have a duty to protect our young people, not to promote a dangerous pseudo-science that leads to suicide and depression.”

Conversion therapy, also known as “reparative therapy,” “ex-gay therapy,” or “sexual orientation change efforts,” is a range of dangerous and discredited practices aimed at changing one’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Young LGBT people are particularly at risk of being hurt by these practices, which, in addition to depression and suicide, have been linked to substance abuse, unsafe sex, and isolation.

HRC and NCLR are working closely with state equality groups to pass state legislation to end conversion therapy, 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. In September of this year, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals 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.


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 Applauds Virginia Bill Protecting Children from Conversion Therapy

SAN FRANCISCO (January 20, 2015)—Today, Virginia Delegate Patrick Hope and Senator Louise Lucas introduced a bill protecting children and their families from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy, joining a growing number of states and jurisdictions to consider and pass legislation to put an end to the discredited practice.

The bill reflects the unanimous view of medical, mental health, and child welfare experts that attempts to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity are ineffective and unsafe, putting youth at risk of severe long-term health impacts, including depression, substance abuse, and even suicide.

“Today, more than ever, it is clear that state legislatures need to step up to the plate to protect LGBT youth from the dangerous and discredited practices of conversion therapy,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Staff Attorney and #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator Sam Ames. “We commend Delegate Hope and Senator Lucas, as well all the local organizers who have worked tirelessly to get this bill introduced and ensure all Virginian children are able to grow up in communities and families where they are loved for exactly who they are.”

California, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. have already enacted similar laws, and more than a dozen states have introduced similar legislation. Both the Ninth and Third Circuits have rejected attempts by anti-LGBT organizations to challenge the California and New Jersey laws, holding that they are valid exercises of states’ authority to protect public health and safety.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights has been at the forefront of the effort to protect youth and their families from these dangerous practices for two decades and helped pass legislation in California, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. In 2014, NCLR launched its #BornPerfect campaign to end conversion therapy over the next five years by passing legislation to protect youth from these ineffective and harmful practices, fighting in courtrooms to defend laws, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by attempts to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

NCLR and the Human Rights Campaign, are partnering with Equality Virginia and local advocates to support the Virginia bill.


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.