Virginia Becomes 20th State to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 2020
Contact: Christopher Vasquez, NCLR Communications Director
cvasquez@nclrights.org / (415) 365-1337

Virginia Becomes 20th State to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

With Governor’s signature, VA becomes the first Southern state to end the harmful practice

RICHMOND, Virginia — Yesterday Governor Ralph Northam signed a historic bill making Virginia the twentieth state to protect LGBTQ minors from conversion therapy, the harmful practice which seeks to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill, which passed both chambers of the VA legislature in February, will go into effect on July 1.

The Governor’s signature also makes Virginia the first state in the South to end the practice that has been widely condemned by every leading medical and mental health organization in this country.

Virginia joins 19 other states, the District of Columbia, and more than 60 municipalities that have adopted similar protections.

“Across the country, state legislatures are recognizing that the harm caused by conversion therapy is a public health crisis,” said Mathew Shurka, a conversion therapy survivor and Co-Founder of Born Perfect. “Virginia is the twentieth state to pass a law protecting LGBT youth, and the first to do so in the South. As the leading national campaign working to end conversion therapy, Born Perfect will not rest until LGBT youth are protected in every state.”

“As a Virginia survivor who has been working to pass this bill for more than two years, I am grateful to our state legislators and Governor Northam for listening to survivors and their families,” said Adam Trimmer, a conversion therapy survivor and Born Perfect Virginia Ambassador. “No young person should be subjected to this abuse, and no family should be exploited by unethical therapists who lie to parents and cause life-threatening harm.”

“The campaign to end conversion therapy is by far the largest and fast-growing LGBT-related movement in this country,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter. “Since California passed the first law in 2012, the visibility of this issue has increased dramatically, and more and more survivors have come forward. Virginia is the first Southern state to pass a law, but it will not be the last.”

For more than 25 years, NCLR has been leading the fight against conversion therapy. Since 2014, NCLR’s Born Perfect Campaign has brought survivors and legal experts together to support legislation protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy.

Momentum on this work continues to build, with a record-breaking number of states and localities taking action to protect youth in the past 12 months, including North Carolina, Kansas City, Missouri, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Most recently, rules were adopted in the conservative state of Utah that protect LGBTQ minors from conversion therapy

According to an estimate from the Williams Institute from UCLA Law, more than 350,000 LGBTQ minors have been subjected to the dangerous practice of “Conversion Therapy,” which studies have linked to these youth being more than twice as likely to experience depression, and nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide.


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.