Vermont Joins Growing Number of Jurisdictions Protecting LGBTQ Kids from Conversion Therapy

MONTPELIER, Vt. (May 25, 2016)—Today, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed Senate Bill 132 into law, making Vermont the eighth jurisdiction—behind California, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Washington D.C., and Cincinnati—to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangers of conversion therapy.

Senate Bill 132, which protects LGBTQ youth from mental health providers attempting to change their sexual orientation or gender identity through practices that are linked to substance abuse, extreme depression, and suicide, was approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives in April. The law will go into effect July 1, 2016.

“We are thrilled that Vermont has joined the rapidly growing number of states leading the way to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy,” said the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Youth Policy Counsel Carolyn Reyes. “Vermont families can now have confidence that the mental health professional they turn to in times of uncertainty may not use their state license to profit from their children’s pain. Most importantly, Vermont children can now rest easy in the knowledge that they cannot be forced or coerced to undergo dangerous and discredited treatments to try to change who they are. Today brings us one step closer to the day when all LGBTQ youth know they were born perfect.”

Said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin: “No young person should be subjected to this extremely harmful and discredited practice, which medical professionals agree not only doesn’t work, but can also have life-threatening consequences. It is nothing short of child abuse. We thank Governor Shumlin and the Vermont State Legislature for prioritizing the well-being and safety of our nation’s youth, and remain committed to working with partners to ensure that this quackery is banned from coast to coast.”

NCLR, HRC, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, Pride Center Vermont, and Outright Vermont played a key role in organizing the coalition behind the bill. A broad range of groups supported Senate Bill 132, including national LGBTQ organizations and civil rights organizations.

NCLR and HRC are at the forefront of efforts to protect youth and their families from conversion therapy, and work closely with legislators and state leaders across the country to introduce bills protecting youth from these dangerous practices. In 2014, it launched its #BornPerfect campaign to stop conversion therapy across the country by 2019 by passing laws, fighting in courtrooms, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by attempts to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

In February, NCLR, HRC, and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a historic federal consumer fraud complaint against a major provider of “conversion therapy,” urging the Federal Trade Commission to take enforcement action against the organization and all practitioners engaging in similar fraudulent advertising and business practices.


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 U.S. Senators Murray and Booker for Introducing Bill to Protect LGBT People from Conversion Therapy

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (April 28, 2016)—Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Corey Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, a companion bill to HR 2450, introduced in the House of Representatives by Ted Lieu in 2015. The bill would define the provision of conversion therapy for profit as consumer fraud and, additionally, take Rep. Lieu’s bill one step farther by empowering states to take their own action against these dangerous and discredited practices. The senators’ move comes just two months after the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), along with partner organizations Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the Southern Poverty Law Center, filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission encouraging the federal government to investigate conversion therapy as a violation of existing consumer fraud laws.

NCLR Youth Policy Counsel Carolyn Reyes said: “We are grateful for the courageous leadership of Senators Murray and Booker in the fight to end conversion therapy nationwide. This historic bill will protect the most vulnerable among us from exploitation by those fraudulently claiming to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, save countless lives, and send a clear message to every child across this land that they were born perfect.”

NCLR has been at the forefront of efforts to protect youth and their families from conversion therapy for more than two decades. In 2014, it launched its #BornPerfect campaign to stop conversion therapy across the country by 2019 by passing laws, fighting in courtrooms, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by attempts to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

NCLR, alongside HRC and state equality groups, has helped pass legislation in California, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington D.C.


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.

World’s Largest Psychiatric Association Condemns Conversion Therapy

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (March 23, 2016)—Today, the world’s largest organization of mental health professionals—representing more than 200,000 people in 118 countries—called for an end to the discredited practice of “conversion therapy,” which is linked to serious harms, including depression, substance abuse, and suicide.

In a statement issued today, the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) says: “WPA believes strongly in evidence-based treatment. There is no sound scientific evidence that innate sexual orientation can be changed. Furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality can create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish, and they can be potentially harmful. The provision of any intervention purporting to “treat” something that is not a disorder is wholly unethical… Psychiatrists have a social responsibility to advocate for a reduction in social inequalities for all individuals, including inequalities related to gender identity and sexual orientation.”

“We are thrilled that the World Psychiatric Association has joined the chorus of national and international voices calling for an end to conversion therapy,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator and Staff Attorney Sam Ames. “Their announcement sends a clear message that these practices have no place in modern medicine and that policies that condone them engender hatred and endanger lives all across the globe. Today, we are closer than ever to the day when all LGBTQ youth are embraced by their families, supported by their communities, and given no reason to doubt that they were born perfect.”

Today’s announcement comes less than a year after the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a groundbreaking report calling for all member countries to end conversion therapy. That report followed the UN Committee Against Torture’s historic decision to raise the issue as a potential violation of human rights just after NCLR delivered testimony at the 2014 review of the United States. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also recently released a report, “Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth,” following independent statements by President Obama, Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy calling for an end to the practices.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) has been at the forefront of the movement to the end the practice. In 2014, it launched its #BornPerfect campaign to end conversion therapy by protecting youth from these practices through legislation and litigation and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by attempts to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Five jurisdictions—California, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Oregon, and Illinois—now protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy at the hands of licensed mental health professionals, with leaders from several other states working on similar legislation in the 2016 legislative session.

In February, NCLR, the Human Rights Campaign, and Southern Poverty Law Center filed a landmark federal consumer fraud complaint asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the false and misleading claims used by the conversion therapy industry.


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.

Supreme Court Order Marks the End of Legal Challenges to New Jersey’s Ban on Conversion Therapy for Minors

By Chris Stoll, Esq.NCLR Senior Staff Attorney

On February 29, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review Doe v. Christie, a case challenging New Jersey’s law prohibiting state-licensed therapists from engaging in the discredited practice of conversion therapy with patients under 18 years of age. The Supreme Court’s order allows the law to remain in full effect and marks the final chapter in a nearly three-year-long series of challenges filed by Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBT legal group.

NCLR was proud to join Garden State Equality in asking the New Jersey legislature and governor to pass this life-saving legislation, and then to represent GSE in successfully urging the federal courts to reject this legal challenge and uphold the law.

At the time Governor Chris Christie signed the bill into law on August 19, 2013, New Jersey was the second state after California to pass legislation protecting against harmful efforts by licensed therapists to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity – practices that put youth at risk of serious lifelong harm, including depression, substance abuse, and suicide. Since that time, similar laws have been passed in Washington, D.C., Oregon, and Illinois, and NCLR’s #BornPerfect campaign is working with leaders in dozens of other states to bring the same protections to young people everywhere.

Wherever these laws have been challenged, NCLR has also stood ready to defend them in the courts. And we’ve been successful. Federal appeals courts have uniformly rejected legal challenges to these laws brought by anti-LGBT legal groups representing therapists, minors, and parents who want to preserve these outdated and dangerous “treatments.”

These federal court decisions rest on the common-sense principle that states have the power to regulate medical care to protect patients from treatments that are ineffective and risky. Just as a doctor or patient has no right to administer or receive untested or unsafe prescription medications, therapists have no right to engage in so-called treatments that do not benefit minors and expose them to serious risks of harm. Laws protecting minors from conversion therapy are based on a strong scientific consensus among medical and mental health professionals, and states have a right—and a duty—to make sure licensed therapists are not engaging in these harmful and discredited practices.

National Organizations Target ‘Conversion Therapy’ Quacks with Historic Federal Consumer Fraud Complaint

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 24, 2016)—Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed a federal consumer fraud complaint against People Can Change, an organization that preys on vulnerable LGBT people and families by using damaging and discredited claims that it can change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

In the complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the agency charged with protecting America’s consumers, the groups lay out the junk pseudoscience that Virginia-based People Can Change (PCC) uses to expose the American people to ineffective and dangerous “conversion therapy” practices that have for decades been linked to serious harm, including depression, substance abuse, and even suicide.

The organizations are asking the FTC to take enforcement action to stop PCC’s deceptive practices and investigate all practitioners making similar claims.

The complaint alleges that PCC’s advertisements and business practices, which expressly and implicitly claim that they can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, constitute deceptive, false, and misleading practices and can cause serious harm to consumers, all in direct violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.

The complaint also alleges that, in violation of FTC guidelines, PCC, like other practitioners in the “conversion therapy” industry:

  • Defrauds consumers into believing that being LGBT is a mental illness or emotional defect that needs to be cured, a false claim rejected for decades by the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, multiple United Nations committees, and every other major medical and mental health organization in the country;
  • Falsely claims that its “services” have a basis in science, and fails to disclose that its practices can lead to depression, substance abuse, decreased self-esteem, and self-harm, including suicide;
  • Targets and exploits highly vulnerable groups, including LGBT youth, who already experience bias and rejection at alarming rates in society and their own homes;
  • And uses unsubstantiated testimonials, endorsements, and scientific claims to justify charging hundreds and thousands of dollars to give vulnerable individuals false hope that their core identity is something to be cured.

“Today, after decades of advocacy, the voices of conversion therapy survivors have carried all the way up to the highest levels of government. This historic complaint is not only the first clear opportunity the Obama Administration has had to end these deadly practices for good, but, if investigated fully, could very well be the final nail in the coffin of the entire conversion therapy industry. We sincerely look forward to working with the Federal Trade Commission to investigate this fraudulent and unethical organization – along with every trusted professional who profits from the anguish of LGBTQ youth and their families. But, even more so, we look forward to the day when every human being, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, knows they were born perfect.” said NCLR #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator Sam Ames.

“Conversion therapy is abusive, harmful to children, and we urge the FTC to join our call to ban its practice once and for all. This is dangerous junk science that uses fear and shame to tell young people the only way to find love and acceptance is by changing the very nature of who they are,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.

“This complaint builds on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s groundbreaking lawsuit against New Jersey conversion therapy provider JONAH, in which a state jury unanimously found that its so called ‘therapy’ program, which incorporated PCC’s weekend-in-the-woods conversion therapy services, was consumer fraud and an unconscionable commercial practice,” said Scott McCoy, SPLC senior staff attorney. “Our case shut JONAH down, shed light on PCC’s harmful practices, and helped develop this important action to stop PCC and others in this industry from misleading and harming more people.”

The complaint comes as the movement to end “conversion therapy” continues to gain momentum. Earlier this month, Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Cory Booker of New Jersey, joined by California Reps. Jackie Speier and Ted Lieu, issued a letter to the FTC urging the agency to use its authority to take “all actions possible to stop the unfair, deceptive and fraudulent practice of conversion therapy. …”

Their request follows a groundbreaking Department of Health and Human Services report called “Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth,” and months after President Obama, Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued independent statements calling for an end to the practices.

Last year, a SPLC lawsuit forced the New Jersey “conversion therapy” provider JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing) to permanently stop its bogus program and pay damages to plaintiffs. A jury found that JONAH had committed consumer fraud and engaged in unconscionable commercial practices in violation of state law.

California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon and the District of Columbia have passed laws protecting LGBT minors from “conversion therapy,” and more than 20 states have introduced similar legislation this year. New York is also adopting regulations to protect youth from “conversion therapy” as a result of executive action by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The law firm Cooley LLP serves as counsel to the petitioners in this matter.

Read the full complaint to the FTC here.


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 Governor Cuomo for Taking Bold Executive Action to End Conversion Therapy in New York

NEW YORK (February 6, 2016)—New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a series of comprehensive regulations to prevent the practice of so-called lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender “conversion therapy,” which has been deemed harmful to patients by a wide variety of leading medical and mental health professionals. The multi-agency regulations announced today ban public and private health care insurers from covering the practice in New York State and also prohibit various mental health facilities across the state from conducting the practice on minors.

“We could not be more grateful to Governor Cuomo for standing up to the conversion therapy industry today and protecting LGBTQ New Yorkers from these dangerous and discredited practices,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator and Staff Attorney Sam Ames. “The regulations announced today are historic, not only representing the first time a governor has taken executive action to protect youth from conversion therapy, but also ensuring that protection doesn’t stop when they turn 18. Thanks to the tireless advocacy of survivors, mental health professionals, faith leaders, and youth advocates in New York, we are one step closer to finally closing this cruel chapter of our history. We look forward to other states following Governor Cuomo’s leadership and working together toward the day all LGBTQ children know they were born perfect.”

NCLR has been at the forefront of the fight to end conversion therapy and works closely with legislators and state leaders across the country to introduce bills protecting youth from these dangerous practices, which are associated with extreme depression, substance abuse, and even suicide. Five jurisdictions—California, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Oregon, and Illinois—have passed legislation to protect LGBTQ youth from the practices, with leaders from several other states planning introduction of similar legislation in the 2016 legislative session. In 2014, NCLR launched its #BornPerfect campaign to stop conversion therapy across the country by passing laws, fighting in courtrooms, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by attempts to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.


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.