Michigan Governor Issues Directive to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

LANSING, Michigan — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer today signed an executive directive protecting the state’s LGBTQ youth from harmful conversion therapy.

The directive protects minors from harm by licensed professionals; initiates guidelines to train licensed health professionals in the harm of conversion therapy; bars the use of state and federal funds for conversion therapy; and sets the stage for state licensing boards to discipline health professionals who violate the ethical and professional standards associated with their license. Whitmer’s regulatory action explicitly blocks the misuse of Medicaid, CHIP, and Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice programs to inflict conversion therapy upon youths.

The directive cites research showing that youth who are subjected to conversion therapy are at a dramatically increased risk of suicide, depression, and other serious harms. Professional licensing boards across the country have affirmed that conversion therapy is neither ethical nor safe and should not be used on minors under any circumstances.

 “No child in Michigan should be subjected to the abusive practice of so-called conversion therapy, which sends the harmful message that there is something wrong with who you are, when in fact, we are all born perfect,” said Erin Knott, Executive Director of Equality Michigan, who led the effort to secure the governor’s leadership on this issue. “Luckily, LGBTQ+ kids in Michigan have the support of Governor Whitmer, who is doing everything in her power to protect them from this dangerous and discredited pseudoscience. Now, it’s up to the Michigan legislature to immediately pass legislation prohibiting mental health professionals from engaging in conversion therapy with LGBTQ+ kids.”

Born Perfect, the survivor-led national campaign to end conversion therapy, supported Equality Michigan’s effort to advance the executive directive.

“Governor Whitmer is taking a critical step to protect LGBTQ minors across the state of Michigan. LGBTQ kids and their families are targeted by so-called therapists causing lifelong harm,” said Mathew Shurka, a conversion therapy survivor and chief strategist for Born Perfect. “This executive order demonstrates that our political offices have the power to protect our youth and it is their responsibility to do so. Thank you, Governor Whitmer.”

“We applaud Governor Whitmer for her leadership in prioritizing the health and safety of Michiganders,” said Shannon Minter, Legal Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which sponsors Born Perfect. “More than 20 states have taken action to protect minors from the harm caused by sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts. We see a growing number of governors, most recently in Wisconsin, who are enacting similar measures. Conversion therapy has been condemned by every leading medical and mental health professional organization in the country.”    

Equality Michigan provides education, victim services, and outreach that empowers LGBTQ+ neighbors throughout the state to live in safe communities, take care of our families, and create positive impact by improving our social, cultural, and economic lives and wellbeing. We do this by ensuring underrepresented voices are amplified. equalitymi.org

Born Perfect is a survivor-led program created by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) in 2014 to end conversion therapy by passing laws across the country that protect LGBTQ children and young people, fighting in courtrooms to ensure their safety, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by these dangerous practices. https://bornperfect.org