Appeals Court Dismisses Challenge to Maryland Law Protecting Minors from Conversion Therapy

In a victory for all families, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a challenge to Maryland’s law protecting LGBTQ+ minors from conversion therapy.

“This is very welcome news,” said Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Legal Rights. “The Court of Appeals made the right decision. Maryland’s LGBTQ youth and their parents can breathe a sigh of relief. Should practitioners of conversion therapy challenge the law again, we stand ready to defend the interests of youth in the state and urge the courts to uphold it, as they have done with similar laws across the country.”

On procedural grounds, the Court of Appeals denied an appeal by Christopher Doyle challenging Maryland’s law as violating the First Amendment, which he argued permits him to perform harmful and discredited treatment practices that attempt to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Court of Appeals held that Doyle’s case must be dismissed because he sued the wrong state officials. His complaint named only the Governor and Attorney General of Maryland, who are not responsible for enforcing the law.

Based on the court’s ruling, Maryland’s law remains in effect, protecting youth from harmful and unethical efforts to change sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Conversion therapy survivors and their families are perfect as they are, and they don’t need harmful so-called therapy to try to change who they are,” said Mathew Shurka, Born Perfect’s chief strategist and a survivor of sexual orientation change efforts. “Conversion therapists often compel families to falsely blame each other for loved ones’ sexual orientation or gender identity. For five years, therapists harmed my own family, alienating me from my mother and sister and confusing my relationship with my father. No professional should be allowed to abuse their license this way.”

NCLR, along with co-counsel from Lambda Legal, filed friend-of-the court briefs in the case on behalf of FreeState Justice, Maryland’s statewide LGBTQ rights organization.

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