Double Your Gift for Justice and Equality

Last year, when we launched #BornPerfect: NCLR’s Campaign to End Conversion Therapy, it was after more than two decades of advocating for an end to this heinous practice. Survivors of conversion therapy and their families have been shoulder to shoulder with us every step of the way. A year and a half ago, they called on us to take the fight to the next level.

So we set a bold goal: end conversion therapy by 2019.

Your support is critical to ensure that we succeed in eliminating this deadly practice. And today we are proud to announce that every gift we receive from now until December 31st will be matched dollar for dollar to support our life-changing work, including #BornPerfect.

Since the launch of #BornPerfect we have achieved historic milestones, including:

  • Passing groundbreaking new laws protecting minors from being subjected to conversion therapy by licensed mental health professionals and successfully defending those laws before two federal circuit courts.
  • Partnering with the Obama Administration to secure the first statements in history from a sitting President and Surgeon General condemning this ineffective and harmful practice, as well as the first Department of Health and Human Services report detailing the harm it causes to vulnerable youth.
  • Persuading the United Nations Committee Against Torture and High Commissioner for Human Rights to speak out for an end to this abuse on a global scale.

Even with these incredible gains, there is still much work to do to end this dangerous and discredited practice forever. Please make your tax-deductible gift today—which will be matched—so together we can continue to build on this momentum.

We have come so far since the days when these kids had nobody to stand up for their rights. But we won’t stop until every one of them has a place to call home for the holidays, a community where they feel safe, and a family who never lets them forget they were #BornPerfect.

Please double your gift today for justice and equality. We cannot let them down.

In solidarity,
Sam Ames, Esq.
#BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator & Staff Attorney

PS: You can maximize your donation by making a gift of appreciated stock today.

Leading Youth Advocacy Attorney Joins NCLR

Carolyn Reyes Joins Team Working on Efforts to End Conversion Therapy

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (November 4, 2015)—The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) has announced that leading youth advocacy attorney Carolyn Reyes is joining the staff as Youth Policy Counsel. In this newly created position, Reyes will work on NCLR’s #BornPerfect campaign to end conversion therapy on LGBT youth, as well as other youth-related projects.  

Reyes is a national expert on issues related to LGBT youth in out-of-home care. She has spent more than two decades working on behalf of children, youth, and families in various capacities, including as a child welfare worker, children’s attorney, children and family therapist, and school counselor. Prior to joining NCLR, she served as Director of getREAL California, a collaboration between NCLR, the Center for the Study of Social Policy, and Family Builders aimed at integrating sexual orientation and gender identity/expression-informed policy and practice into California’s child welfare system.

“Carolyn is one of the most accomplished and well-respected youth advocates in the country,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “Her work on behalf of LGBT youth has been groundbreaking and life changing, and we are thrilled that she has joined our team working to ensure that LGBT young people are fully supported and treated with equal dignity and respect.” 

“I am thrilled to be joining the amazing team at NCLR to protect and empower some of the most vulnerable youth in our country. I have spent my entire legal career collaborating with NCLR to reform public systems of care to be more affirming of and equitable towards LGBT youth,” said Reyes. “This is the logical next step in my career and I am exceedingly grateful to be taking it!”

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 increasing family acceptance of LGBT youth to keep them out of state care.     

Last year, 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. 

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—now protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy at the hands of licensed mental health professionals, with leaders from several other states planning introduction of similar legislation in the 2016 legislative session.


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 HRC Release Sample Legislation to End Conversion Therapy on LGBTQ Youth

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (October 20, 2015)—Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and their families, and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, released sample legislation for state legislators and equality groups who want to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy.

This first-of-its-kind sample legislation draws from best practices in the jurisdictions that have passed successful laws, the more than 20 states that have introduced similar legislation, the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act (a federal bill that takes a fraud-based approach to regulate conversion therapy), and the experience of legal experts working on this vitally important issue.

“This sample legislation is the culmination of two decades working to end conversion therapy, three years helping states take legislative steps to protect youth from these ineffective and harmful practices, and a truly exceptional coalition of legal experts from across the country. What has emerged from this extraordinary process is a bill that is both true to our shared values and legally airtight. Moving forward, we could not be more excited to work with state legislators and equality groups equipped with this powerful tool to end conversion therapy once and for all,” said NCLR #BornPerfect Coordinator and Staff Attorney Sam Ames.

“This important sample legislation comes at a critical time in our fight to protect our nation’s LGBTQ youth from the dangerous practice of conversion therapy,” added HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “A junk pseudoscience that amounts to nothing more than child abuse, this so-called therapy has been denounced by every mainstream medical and mental health association. We look forward to partnering with state legislators and key stakeholders in working to pass these vitally important measures to stop this horrific practice once and for all.”

The sample legislation comes just days after the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, issued a report calling for an end to conversion therapy and urging family acceptance of LGBTQ children.

NCLR and HRC are at the forefront of the fight to end conversion therapy, and work 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—now protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy at the hands of licensed mental health professionals, with leaders from several other states planning introduction of similar legislation in the 2016 legislative session. Last year, 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.

NCLR Applauds Obama Administration’s Groundbreaking Report on Conversion Therapy

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (October 15, 2015)—Today the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), released “Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting And Affirming LGBTQ Youth,” a groundbreaking new report that provides accurate information about how conversion therapy harms lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. The report was released this morning and will be discussed in depth by several of the authors this afternoon at a panel moderated by National Lesbian Rights (NCLR) #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator and Staff Attorney Sam Ames at the Utah LGBT Summit, part of the National LGBT Rural Summit Series, hosted by the White House and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Ogden.

The report confirms that conversion therapy is an inappropriate practice that should not be utilized by mental health practitioners, puts to rest once and for all any remaining claims that sexual orientation or gender identity can or should be changed, and finds that any attempt to do so “perpetuates outdated views of gender roles and identities as well as the negative stereotype that being a sexual and gender minority or identifying as LGBTQ is an abnormal aspect of human development.”

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Conversion therapy is a practice that is not supported by credible evidence and has been disavowed by behavioral health experts and associations.
  • Same-gender sexual orientation—including identity, behavior, and attraction—and variations in gender identity and gender expression are a part of the normal spectrum of human diversity and do not constitute a mental disorder.
  • None of the existing research supports the premise that mental or behavioral health interventions can alter gender identity or sexual orientation.
  • Interventions aimed at a fixed outcome, such as gender conformity or heterosexual orientation, including those aimed at changing gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, are coercive, can be harmful, and should not be a part of behavioral health treatment.
  • Informed consent cannot be provided for an intervention that does not have a benefit to the client.
  • Conversion therapy may put young people at risk of serious harm.
  • Given that conversion therapy is not an appropriate therapeutic intervention, efforts should be taken to end the practice.

“We could not be more grateful to SAMHSA, HHS, and the entire Obama Administration for producing such an in-depth and lifesaving report, and to the APA for inviting us to the table with such high caliber experts to observe the process. From representing LGBTQ youth institutionalized for their identity to advocating for laws protecting them from physical and psychological abuse, NCLR has been leading the fight to end these dangerous and discredited practices for decades. For the first time in history, advocates are seeing our national leaders prioritize what is too often an issue of life and death for LGBTQ youth. But, more importantly, young people are seeing their heroes stand up for them. We thank President Obama for his strong leadership on this issue and look forward to using the groundbreaking findings of this report to bring about a day when every child knows they were #BornPerfect.” said Ames.

In addition to including recommendations for eliminating the use of conversion therapy through battling discrimination, legislation, and training, the SAMHSA report also includes guidance for families, communities, providers, and educators. Read the full report here.

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—now protect LGBTQ youth from the practices, with leaders from several other states planning introduction of similar legislation in the 2016 legislative session.

Last year, 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.

#BornPerfect: A Year In, and We’re Not Backing Down

By Sam Ames#BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator & Staff Attorney

A year ago, we set out with a goal—protect LGBTQ children from conversion therapy by wiping out the dangerous and discredited practice in just five years.

Since then, our #BornPerfect campaign has helped protect thousands of kids across the country from practices linked to severe depression, substance abuse, and even suicide. And we couldn’t have done it without you by our side.

Here’s a snapshot:

  • In #BornPerfect’s first year, we helped bring laws to Washington D.C., Oregon, and Illinois that protect LGBTQ kids from being subjected to “treatment” that falsely claims to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. This brings us to FIVE jurisdictions that have passed these laws (NCLR helped pass similar legislation in California in 2012 and in New Jersey in 2013).
  • We successfully defended several of those laws in court against constitutional challenges. Last summer, NCLR intervened on behalf of New Jersey’s Garden State Equality and helped win the case in the U.S. Court for the District of New Jersey, followed by the U.S Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The Supreme Court declined to review the favorable ruling, sending the law into effect earlier this year.
  • We made history at the United Nations in Geneva last fall when we testified before the Committee Against Torture, which expressed its concern over the practice that’s still being used on LGBTQ youth across the United States. Just months later, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a landmark report calling on governments around the world to take action to end conversion therapy once and for all.
  • We worked closely with the White House this spring to support President Obama, Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett, and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in calling on states to pass legislation protecting youth from practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity that have been condemned by every major medical and mental health association.
  • We worked with Congressman Ted Lieu to introduce a federal bill months ago that would define the practice of conversion therapy as illegal consumer fraud. If passed, this law could effectively cripple the conversion therapy industry, making for-profit conversion therapy illegal nationwide. The introduction built on three years of groundbreaking work by Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who in 2012 introduced the first federal bill to deal with conversion therapy—the Stop Harming Our Kids (SHOK) Resolution.

Many considered our goal ambitious. But with your faith and support, we have been able to make history time and time again. From the entire #BornPerfect team, and from all the survivors who have been empowered by your support to tell their stories, we can’t thank you enough.

We know the next four years won’t be easy. We’ve seen our opponents come out in force in states from California to Oklahoma, where, just a few months ago, we beat back legislation that would have made conversion therapy immune from regulation. But, with you by our side, we won. And, with you by our side, we’re going to keep on winning.

Together, we’re going to stand up for our kids. And we promise we won’t back down until the day every child knows they were #BornPerfect.

Illinois Becomes Fifth Jurisdiction to Protect LGBTQ Kids from Conversion Therapy

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (August 20, 2015)—Today, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 217 into law, making Illinois the fifth jurisdiction—behind California, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, and Oregon—to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangers of conversion therapy.

House Bill 217, which protects LGBTQ youth from mental health providers attempting to change their sexual orientation or gender identity through these practices, which are linked to substance abuse, extreme depression, and suicide, was overwhelmingly approved by the Illinois House of Representatives and General Assembly. The law will go into effect January 1, 2016.

“We are thrilled that Illinois 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) #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator and Staff Attorney Sam Ames. “Illinois 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, Illinois kids can now rest easy in the knowledge that they cannot be forced or coerced to undergo dangerous and discredited treatments to fix who they are. Today brings us one step closer to the day when all LGBTQ youth know they were born perfect.”

“With this tremendous step, LGBT youth in Illinois are now protected from a dangerous and appalling practice based on junk pseudoscience that amounts to nothing less than child abuse,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin. “Discredited by every major mental health, medical, and child welfare organization, conversion ‘therapy’ uses fear and shame to tell young people the only way to find love and acceptance is to change the very nature of who they are. We thank Governor Rauner, as well as members of the state legislature on both sides of the aisle, for putting politics aside and the well-being of children first. We will continue to work with our allies to secure these crucial protections in every state across the nation.”

NCLR and HRC, in conjunction with the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, Equality Illinois, and other groups, played a key role in organizing the coalition behind the bill. A broad range of groups supported HB 217, including national LGBTQ organizations, mental health organizations, faith leaders, youth advocates, and civil rights organizations. NCLR and HRC have partnered with state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation to end this dangerous practice, including laws passed in California, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, and now Illinois.

Last year, NCLR 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. Illinois is the third state to pass such a law in 2015 alone.


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.