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.

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.

Illinois Bill Protecting LGBT Youth from Conversion Therapy Moves to Governor

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (May 29, 2015)—Today, the Illinois State Senate voted 34-19 to pass House Bill 217, the Illinois Youth Mental Health Protection Act that will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth from the dangerous and discredited practices of conversion therapy. The bill was overwhelmingly approved 68-43 by the State House earlier this month and is heading to the desk of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

If signed into law, the bill would make Illinois the fifth jurisdiction—behind California, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, and Oregon—to enact a law protecting LGBT youth from the lifelong damage caused by these practices, which have been linked to substance abuse, depression, and even suicide.

National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) #BornPerfect™ Campaign Coordinator Sam Ames said: “We couldn’t be prouder to add Illinois to the list of legislatures that have acted to protect LGBT youth, and we applaud the dedication of Equality Illinois and the tireless coalition on the ground. We hope Governor Bruce Rauner will join fellow Republicans like Chris Christie, who signed New Jersey’s conversion therapy ban in 2013. No matter our sexual orientation, gender identity, or political party, we can all agree that children’s lives are worth protecting. We call on Governer Rauner to sign this lifesaving bill and protect LGBT youth and their families from these dangerous and fraudulent practices.”

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said: “By passing this important legislation, Illinois lawmakers on both sides of the aisle stood up for equality and against a dangerous practice that uses fear and shame to tell young people 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. We urge Governor Rauner to sign this bipartisan legislation into law and protect the state’s youth from this harmful and discredited practice.”

NCLR and HRC, in conjunction with Equality Illinois, played a key role in organizing the coalition behind the bill. A broad range of groups supported HB 217, 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 the 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 law, which was signed 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 uphold New Jersey’s law, which was signed 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.

Oregon Becomes Fourth Jurisdiction to Protect LGBT Kids from Conversion Therapy

SALEM, Ore. (May 21, 2015)—The National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Human Rights Campaign applaud Oregon Gov. Kate Brown for signing House Bill 2307 into law, making Oregon the fourth jurisdiction—behind California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia—to protect LGBT youth from the dangers of conversion therapy.

Today, Brown held a bill-signing ceremony to celebrate House Bill 2307, which protects LGBT 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. It goes into effect immediately.

“We could not be prouder that Oregon has joined the ranks of states leading the way to protect LGBT youth from conversion therapy,” said the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator and Staff Attorney Sam Ames. “Oregon families can now have confidence that a trusted professional will not use their state license to profit from their children’s pain, and Oregon kids can now rest easy in the knowledge that they are protected from being forced or coerced to undergo treatment for who they are. We are one step closer to the day when all LGBTQ youth know they were born perfect.”

“Oregon has sent a strong message—one of hope, acceptance, and love for young people who happen to be LGBT,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Thanks to the state’s leaders who stood up against discrimination, LGBT young people in the state are now protected from this destructive and demeaning practice that should have no place in any therapy – a 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. HRC and our partners are proud to have played a role in this victory and are committed to passing these same protections nationwide.”

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.

The bill signing ceremony comes the same week that U.S. Congressman Ted W. Lieu introduced the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, the first nationwide bill that would protect LGBT people from the dangers of conversion therapy. Lieu announced the bill at a press conference on Tuesday that was attended by survivors of conversion therapy, members of the mental health and medical community, faith leaders, and representatives from NCLR, HRC, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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 law, which was signed 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 uphold New Jersey’s law, which was signed 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 Introduction of Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act by Congressman Lieu

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 19, 2015)—The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) applauds U.S. Congressman Ted W. Lieu’s introduction of the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, the first nationwide bill that would protect LGBT people from the dangers of conversion therapy. Lieu announced the bill this morning at a press conference attended by survivors of conversion therapy, members of the mental health and medical community, faith leaders, and representatives from NCLR, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

If passed, the Therapeutic Fraud Act would be the first nation-wide law to protect LGBT people, no matter who they are or where they live, from being defrauded by false and too often deadly promises that they can change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

NCLR #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator and Staff Attorney Sam Ames, who spoke at the bill’s introduction, said:  “On this historic day, we are honored to stand beside Congressman Lieu, a longtime leader in the fight to end conversion therapy, as well as the courageous survivors who have been speaking out for years against practices that falsely claim to be able to change sexual orientation or gender identity. This visionary bill will not only ensure that no person can profit from peddling services based on blatantly fraudulent claims about sexual orientation or gender identity,  it will save lives and send a clear message to every child in the country, no matter who they are or where they live, that they were born perfect.”

In 2012, Lieu, then a California legislator, championed the first state bill of its kind to protect LGBT young people from these ineffective and fraudulent practices, which are based on the false claim that sexual orientation is an illness or disorder and that it can be changed. Since then, New Jersey and Washington D.C. have passed similar laws. Earlier this month, Oregon lawmakers approved a similar bill, which Gov. Kate Brown is expected to sign into law. Earlier this month, Congresswoman Jackie Speier reintroduced the Stop Harming Our Kids (SHOK) Resolution of 2015, calling on more states to take action to protect youth from conversion therapy.


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 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.