Washington, DC – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, along with FreeState Justice, a legal advocacy organization that seeks to improve the lives of LGBTQ Marylanders, and WISE urged Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to sign SB 1028 — legislation protecting LGBTQ youth in the state from the dangerous and debunked practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” This important bill was passed today in the Maryland House of Delegates by a vote of 95-27 and was previously approved by the Maryland State Senate. If signed by Governor Hogan, Maryland would join the growing number of states and municipalities adopting critical protections for LGBTQ youth.
“All children deserve to live their lives authentically and should never be subjected to the abusive practice of so-called conversion therapy,” said HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. “This dangerous and inhumane practice has no basis in science and is uniformly rejected by every major mental health organization in the country. We thank the state legislators who voted to protect LGBTQ youth and now call on Governor Hogan to sign this crucially important legislation.”
“The Maryland General Assembly has chosen to protect our youth by joining the growing list of states banning conversion therapy,” said FreeState Justice Executive Director Mark Procopio. “These widely discredited and harmful practices have no place here. Governor Hogan’s signature on this legislation will send a message to LGBTQ youth across our state that they are perfect just the way they are.”
SB1028 was introduced in the Maryland State Senate by Senator Richard Madaleno and in the House of Delegates by Delegate Bonnie Cullison and passed the legislature with bipartisan support.
Senator Madaleno said, “No minor should be forced to go through a practice that clearly every reputable health care organization has dismissed as being both ineffective and unethical. All it does is create more harm and more anxiety for the young person. I am pleased, and frankly, relieved that this bill has passed: relieved, because this bill will help save so many young people’s lives.”
Delegate Cullison said, “I am so grateful and happy to have been a part of this affirmation of our LBGTQ youth. Today, with passage of SB 1028, Maryland has made a strong statement that these young people are not broken–they are beautiful! We owe them our support and our protection under the law.”
There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. 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 harmful practice is condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Medical Association.
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. A growing number of municipalities have also passed similar protections, including cities and counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, Florida, New York, Arizona, and Wisconsin.
According to a recent report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, an estimated 20,000 LGBTQ minors in states without protections will be subjected to conversion therapy by a licensed healthcare professional if state officials fail to act.
HRC has partnered with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation ending conversion therapy. More information on the lies and dangers of efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity can be found here.
About the Human Rights Campaign
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
NCLR is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, legislation, policy, and public education.