SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (October 15, 2015)—Today the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), released “Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting And Affirming LGBTQ Youth,” a groundbreaking new report that provides accurate information about how conversion therapy harms lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. The report was released this morning and will be discussed in depth by several of the authors this afternoon at a panel moderated by National Lesbian Rights (NCLR) #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator and Staff Attorney Sam Ames at the Utah LGBT Summit, part of the National LGBT Rural Summit Series, hosted by the White House and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Ogden.
The report confirms that conversion therapy is an inappropriate practice that should not be utilized by mental health practitioners, puts to rest once and for all any remaining claims that sexual orientation or gender identity can or should be changed, and finds that any attempt to do so “perpetuates outdated views of gender roles and identities as well as the negative stereotype that being a sexual and gender minority or identifying as LGBTQ is an abnormal aspect of human development.”
Among the report’s key findings:
- Conversion therapy is a practice that is not supported by credible evidence and has been disavowed by behavioral health experts and associations.
- Same-gender sexual orientation—including identity, behavior, and attraction—and variations in gender identity and gender expression are a part of the normal spectrum of human diversity and do not constitute a mental disorder.
- None of the existing research supports the premise that mental or behavioral health interventions can alter gender identity or sexual orientation.
- Interventions aimed at a fixed outcome, such as gender conformity or heterosexual orientation, including those aimed at changing gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, are coercive, can be harmful, and should not be a part of behavioral health treatment.
- Informed consent cannot be provided for an intervention that does not have a benefit to the client.
- Conversion therapy may put young people at risk of serious harm.
- Given that conversion therapy is not an appropriate therapeutic intervention, efforts should be taken to end the practice.
“We could not be more grateful to SAMHSA, HHS, and the entire Obama Administration for producing such an in-depth and lifesaving report, and to the APA for inviting us to the table with such high caliber experts to observe the process. From representing LGBTQ youth institutionalized for their identity to advocating for laws protecting them from physical and psychological abuse, NCLR has been leading the fight to end these dangerous and discredited practices for decades. For the first time in history, advocates are seeing our national leaders prioritize what is too often an issue of life and death for LGBTQ youth. But, more importantly, young people are seeing their heroes stand up for them. We thank President Obama for his strong leadership on this issue and look forward to using the groundbreaking findings of this report to bring about a day when every child knows they were #BornPerfect.” said Ames.
In addition to including recommendations for eliminating the use of conversion therapy through battling discrimination, legislation, and training, the SAMHSA report also includes guidance for families, communities, providers, and educators. Read the full report here.
NCLR has been at the forefront of the fight to end conversion therapy and works 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 the practices, 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.