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.

Time is Running Out to Stop Anti-LGBT Conversion “Therapy” in Virginia

We need your help and there’s no time to waste.

Committees in the Virginia House and Senate are voting TODAY on legislation that prohibits therapists from trying to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Anti-LGBT groups are turning out in full force to oppose this life-saving bill—please don’t let them succeed!

Committee members urgently need to hear that you want them to protect LGBT children from these dangerous and discredited practices that are known to lead to depression, social withdrawal, substance abuse, and suicide.

We only have an hour or so before committee members vote and we must ensure they pass this bill, sending it to the full floor for a vote.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Email House and Senate committee members using the draft language below.
  • Call House and Senate committee members and ask them to support the bill.
  • Send your legislators a direct tweet asking them to protect children from conversion therapy using the #HB1385, #SB988 and #BornPerfect hashtags.
  • Use the #BornPerfect image to spread the word through your social networks about the importance of this bill and ask your friends to do the same.

It’s outrageous that conversion therapy practices continue despite the serious, long-lasting harms they cause to vulnerable children and families.

LGBT young people need your help. Will you take a moment to make a difference in their lives?

In solidarity,

Kate Kendell, Esq.
NCLR Executive Director

DRAFT EMAIL CONTENT TO COMMITTEE MEMBERS

I am writing to you today to ask that you support the bill protecting children from mental health professionals who use dangerous practices to try to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Conversion therapy practices—which have been discredited by every major medical and mental health organization—lead to serious harm, including depression, shame, social withdrawal, substance abuse, and suicide.

Every leading medical and mental health organization across the country has condemned the practice and issued warnings that there is no credible evidence that any type of psychotherapy can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Yet, every day, mental health professional in our state continue to mislead parents and to subject children to these dangerous practices.

Too many young people have taken their own lives or suffered lifelong harm after being told, falsely, by a therapist or counselor that who they are is wrong, sick or the result of personal or moral failure.

We must ensure that no child is subjected to this damaging and discredited practice. Please support this crucial bill.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

DRAFT FACEBOOK POST

We need your help and there’s no time to waste. Committees in the Virginia House and Senate are voting TODAY on legislation that prohibits therapists from trying to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Email or call ASAP to ask them to support the bill.

Please share!

DRAFT TWEETS

URGENT Tell #VA legislators to support bill protecting #LGBT children from #ConversionTherapy #BornPerfect

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.

The Cost of Awareness

By Sam Ames#BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator & Staff Attorney

The suicide of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn has prompted widespread media attention, including a focus on her description of how being sent to conversion therapy increased her sense of isolation and rejection. Now more than ever before, it is clear that there is an urgent need for more public discussion and education around the harms caused by conversion therapy. But some aspects of the recent conversations have been troubling.

I’ve spent the last several years working with survivors of these dangerous and discredited practices at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which has been at the forefront of this issue for two decades. Six months ago, we launched our #BornPerfect campaign to end conversion therapy for good, rooted in empowering those survivors to tell their stories in healing ways through advocacy and leadership. In conversations with both survivors and advocates since Leelah’s death, I’ve become increasingly aware of something that isn’t easy to address but that I can’t stay silent about anymore. Of all those weighing in on this horrific tragedy, some voices – including those of conversion therapy survivors—have been notably quieter and different in tone than others, and I think we need to talk about why.

While it’s impossible to deny that Leelah Alcorn’s final words have been a wake-up call to many who didn’t even know conversion therapy was still an issue, we need to make sure that the ways we talk about this aren’t risking anyone else’s safety. I’ve been thrilled to see a lot of discussions taking place over the last few weeks between individuals and organizations wanting to put an end to these ineffective and harmful practices. These conversations are long overdue. But they can also be triggering.

History tells us we should be wary of sudden calls to action that glorify victims of suicide, point fingers at simplified causes, or sensationalize details of an already gut-wrenching death. Before engaging on this issue, I’d encourage folks to check out ReportingOnSuicide.org,  a great resource on ways to prevent suicide contagion–something that occurs when a suicide is reported on in a way that contributes to another suicide. The cost of this moment is already too high. We can’t afford to let it get any higher. The best way we can honor Leelah’s memory isn’t an easy fix—as appealing as that is—but doing the hard, long-term work of making sure all ‪#‎LGBT kids feel safe and supported in their communities, their families, and their homes.

Leelah: “My death needs to mean something”

By Kate Kendell, Esq.NCLR Executive Director

“We are who we are, and there’s very little we can do to change our core. If we’re asked to change, there will be a chasm so deep inside of us that it will threaten our very life.”
–Jodie Patterson, mother of transgender child

The suicide last week of 17-year-old transgender girl Leelah Alcorn was a soul-crushing reminder of how our society is failing our transgender youth. Leelah’s parents rejected who she was and subjected her to conversion therapy, apparently believing the deadly lie that a person’s gender identity can be changed. In her last writings Leelah, left us with this charge: “Fix society. Please.”

Like countless LGBT youth across this country, Leelah struggled with the anguish and isolation of navigating a world in which her core identity was erased and rejected. Despite the gains we have achieved in securing the equal rights of LGBT people in many arenas, too many of our children continue to suffer the ravages of intolerance and bigotry.

Last year, we at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) launched our #BornPerfect campaign to end conversion therapy in five years. For more than 20 years, we have witnessed the terrible damage done by subjecting children to the discredited practices that are designed to change their immutable identity. We have talked to countless conversion therapy survivors, who continue as adults to experience deep emotional scars caused by these practices, even as they thrive and live accomplished lives. Tragically, we have also learned of too many of our brothers and sisters who did not survive.

In 1970, a 5-year-old gender non-conforming boy named Kirk Murphy began treatment at George Rekers’ clinic—a clinic that promised it could “cure” homosexuality—at UCLA. Like many children subjected to conversion therapy today, Kirk was rewarded for stereotypically masculine behaviors and punished for stereotypically feminine behaviors. Several years later, Kirk was pronounced cured, and George Rekers went on to build a highly influential career based, in part, on this so-called “success story.” When Kirk was 17, the two met again. Kirk told Rekers he was gay and suicidal and didn’t know what to do. Rekers continued to publish research citing his success story. Then, at 38, Kirk took his own life.

Today, the dangers of conversion therapy are well established. These practices have been condemned by every major medical and mental health organization across the country.  We want to believe that this barbaric practice has ended, but sadly, that is not the case. As many as one in three LGBT people have experienced some form of conversion therapy at the hands of a mental health professional or a faith leader. There are still many religious leaders that continue to preach that LGBT children are doomed to eternal damnation. Conversion therapists continue to peddle their sham practices to ignorant and vulnerable parents.

In the past two years we have helped pass legislation to stop conversion therapy on minors in California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia, and we have successfully defended those laws from challenges brought by the therapists who traffic in the lie of conversion therapy. But we must do more. And that is where you can help.

We need you to advocate in your state for laws that ban this harmful practice. We need you to talk about the dangers of conversion therapy to your friends and family. We need you to help us create a climate in which no loving parent would consider subjecting their child to these dangerous and discredited practices.

We are working with legislators across the country to stop conversion therapy, and we are bringing cases to hold those who subject youth to these dangerous practices accountable for the devastation they have caused. Your local advocacy, your voice, your support can help us realize the goal of #BornPerfect. We can end this condemned practice and we can give renewed hope to LGBT youth everywhere.

It is impossible to come to terms with Leelah’s death. But this tragedy strengthens our resolve to create a world in which all children are cherished and supported to become their authentic selves. Leelah’s utterly tragic and completely avoidable death must not be in vain. We can “fix society,” but we can’t do it without you.


The #BornPerfect Campaign will hold a Twitter Town Hall from 3:30-4:30 p.m. PT on Thursday, January 8, 2015, to discuss the fight to stop conversion therapy. Join the conversation with NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Kirk Murphy’s sister Maris Ehlers, survivor and mental health expert James Guay, faith leader Justin Tanis, and #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator Sam Ames. Ask questions in advance and during the Town Hall @NCLRights using #BornPerfect.