Maryland Enacts Legislation Protecting LGBTQ Youth from Abusive "Conversion Therapy"

Associated Press

Governor Larry Hogan signed the legislation today along with another bill meant to help LGBTQ youth.

Young people who are rejected by their families over their sexual orientation or gender identity are more than eight times more likely to attempt suicide than youth from accepting families, according to the Trevor Project, a pro-LGBTQ advocacy group that is working to ban conversion therapy across the U.S. Richard Madaleno, states that any medical professional or counselor which violates the law "shall be subject to discipline by a certain licensing or certifying board".

Del. Meagan Simonaire, a Republican, spoke on the House floor about the pain she experienced when her parents recommended the therapy to her when she told them she was bisexual.

However, before it could be made into law, Governor Larry Hogan was required to approve the bill. Richard Madaleno (D-Montgomery Co.), now one of several Democrats running for governor, and in the House by Del.

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Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Washington all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice. To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior.

The practice has been condemned by medical and mental health associations including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. "This unsafe and inhumane form of child abuse has no basis in science and is uniformly rejected by every major mental health and child welfare organization". More information on the lies and dangers of efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity can be found here.

A number of Republican lawmakers, including Yuba City Assemblyman James Gallagher, worry the move threatens to curtail free speech, especially given the practice of gay conversion therapy is already outlawed in the state. Several municipalities in other states have also passed similar laws in the absence of action by their state legislators. "LGBTQ youth are ideal as they are and are deserving of every opportunity to help them thrive".

Matthew Shurka, a survivor of conversion therapy who now works with the National Center for Lesbian Rights on its #BornPerfect campaign to ban conversion therapy in all states by the end of 2019, hailed the bill's passage.

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