Conversion Therapy For LGBTQ Kids Banned In Virginia

Virginia has become the latest state, and the first in the South, to ban the widely discredited practice of conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors after Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill into law, CBS News reported.

Northam, a pediatric neurologist, said he was proud to sign the bill in a news release.

Twitter | @GovernorVA

"Conversion therapy sends the harmful message that there is something wrong with who you are," said Governor Northam. "This discriminatory practice has been widely discredited in studies and can have lasting effects on our youth, putting them at greater risk of depression and suicide. No one should be made to feel they are not okay the way they are — especially not a child. I'm proud to sign this ban into law."

Conversion therapy has been roundly discredited as harmful to mental health.

The practice seeks to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity, and those who have been through conversion therapy programs have reported increased depression, anxiety, drug use, and suicide attempts.

The AMA and the APA both support banning conversion therapy, with the APA saying it "does not believe that same-sex orientation should or needs to be changed, and efforts to do so represent a significant risk of harm by subjecting individuals to forms of treatment which have not been scientifically validated and by undermining self-esteem when sexual orientation fails to change. No credible evidence exists that any mental health intervention can reliably and safely change sexual orientation; nor, from a mental health perspective does sexual orientation need to be changed."

The bill's sponsor, Delegate Patrick Hope, called conversion therapy "a dangerous, destructive practice."

"We should be supporting and celebrating our LGBTQ youth, not putting them in harm's way," he added.

House Bill 386 bans any licensed counselor in Virginia from practicing conversion therapy on any patients younger than 18, with the potential for disciplinary actions should a complaint be filed.

Virginia joins 19 other states that have already banned the practice.

Performing conversion therapy on minors has been outlawed in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.

The new law will go into effect July 1.

h/t: CBS News, CNN, ABC News