Oklahoma Pro-Conversion “Therapy” Bill Dies on State House Floor

(Oklahoma City, OK, May 12, 2015)—This afternoon, a bill introduced to the Oklahoma State House by Representative Sally Kern that would legalize anti-LGBT therapy died without coming to a vote. The defeat follows months of extensive grassroots organizing by national and state organizations working in coalition to educate parents and families about the ineffective and harmful practices of conversion therapy on LGBT youth.

HB 1598 aimed to legitimize conversion therapy by providing special state protections for practices which have 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.

“It is not often that we can say defeating a piece of legislation actually saved lives, but with HB 1598, that is exactly what happened,” said Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director Troy Stevenson. “The fact that this bill would have removed oversight and prohibited state intervention into extreme forms of child abuse was unconscionable. We owe a debt of gratitude to the fair-minded legislators who refused to allow it to even get a vote on the house floor.”

“Stopping this bill was an incredibly important victory for LGBT youth in Oklahoma,” added 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.”

National Center for Lesbian Rights Staff Attorney and #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator Sam Ames concluded: “Today’s victory is one more nail in the coffin of the conversion therapy industry. The people of Oklahoma have defeated a hateful and dangerous bill that would have put LGBT children’s lives at risk. While we have made unprecedented progress in recent years, it is clearer than ever that the conversion therapy industry will not go down without a fight. NCLR intends to see that fight through until the day all children, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, know they were born perfect.”

HRC and NCLR have partnered with state equality groups to pass state legislation to end this dangerous practice, 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.


Freedom Oklahoma is Oklahoma’s statewide LGBT advocacy organization and a proud member of the Equality Federation. Freedom Oklahoma is the unified organization resulting from the merger of The Equality Network, a 501(c)4 organization that lobbies for pro-equality legislation and public policies; and the Cimarron Alliance Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization that engaged in public education in support of the LGBT community.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.


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.

Oregon to Join California, New Jersey, & D.C. in Protecting LGBT Youth from Conversion Therapy

SALEM, Ore. (May 7, 2015)—Today, the Oregon State Senate passed HB 2307, a bill that will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy. The bill was overwhelmingly approved by the State House on March 17 and is now heading to the desk of Governor Kate Brown who is expected to sign it into law.

When signed into law, Oregon will become the fourth jurisdiction—behind California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia—to pass legislation protecting LGBT youth from the serious harms caused by these practices, which have been linked to substance abuse, serious depression, and even suicide.

“This lifesaving law will protect the health and well-being of LGBT youth in Oregon and ensure that licensed mental health professionals cannot abuse their position of trust to do lifelong harm to children and tear families apart. We applaud Basic Rights Oregon and bill champions Rep. Rob Nosse and Sen. Sara Gelser for their unshakeable leadership in guiding this bill through the legislative process, as well as the courageous survivors who testified on its behalf,” said the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator and Staff Attorney Sam Ames. “Without their willingness to share their stories, sacrifice their privacy, and at times even come face-to-face with the very unethical therapists responsible for their trauma, this legislation would not have passed. We all owe them an enormous debt of gratitude, one we can only repay by promising we will continue this fight until the day no child knows the devastation of being told they were born anything but perfect.”

“No young person should be subjected to this extremely harmful and discredited practice that uses fear and shame to tell them the only way to find love or acceptance is to change the very nature of who they are,” said the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Psychological abuse has no place in therapy, no matter the intention. While the LGBT youth in Oregon will soon be protected once this bill is signed into law, HRC and our allies are committed to making sure these kinds of protections are secured in every state.”

NCLR and the Human Rights Campaign, in conjunction with Basic Rights Oregon and other groups, played a key role in organizing the coalition behind the bill, which was sponsored by State Representative Rob Nosse. A broad range of groups supported HB 2307, including national LGBT organizations, mental health organizations, faith leaders, youth advocates, and civil rights organizations.

HRC and NCLR 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, 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. On Monday May 4, 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision to 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 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.

The President Joins Our Fight

By Sam Ames#BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator & Staff Attorney

Nine months ago, NCLR launched our #BornPerfect campaign to end the use of conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth in five years. At the time, we thought it was an ambitious goal. We could not have imagined then the speed with which this movement has already grown or the impact it has already made. Thanks to the denunciations of these dangerous practices by mental health professionals, the tenacity of lawmakers and LGBT state equality groups, the support of faith leaders, and, most importantly, the courage of survivors, we have come farther in those nine months than we had ever thought possible.

But yesterday hit a new high water mark when one of the most powerful champions in the world joined our corner. Yesterday, President Barack Obama sent a clear message to every LGBTQ person in the country being forced into conversion therapy, into the streets, and all too often into body bags: You are not alone. You are not broken. You are ‪#‎BornPerfect.

When we started this fight 20 years ago, we knew we were in it for the long haul. When we passed SB 1172 in California, we knew we were in it for the long haul. Even today, when it is clearer than ever that this only ends one way, we know we are in it for the long haul. We cannot risk another child ending their life while they wait for the family acceptance and support they so desperately need. Now that the country is finally ready to open its eyes, we must work harder than ever to show how wrong and damaging these practices are. We will not stop fighting until every child can rest easily, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. We aren’t finished until conversion therapy is.

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.