WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), today introduced a resolution that condemns the dangerous and harmful practice commonly known as “conversion therapy” and calls for states to enact laws banning its use on minors.
Based on the false premise that lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals are somehow afflicted with a mental illness and are in need of curing, so-called conversion therapy aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Conversional therapy has no scientific basis and for decades, mainstream medical and mental health organizations – including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association -- have dismissed the practice and found it to be ineffective and unsafe. New Jersey, California, and the District of Columbia have passed laws to prohibit licensed medical providers from offering conversion therapy to minors, and federal courts have upheld these laws. These laws have attracted bipartisan support – for instance, Republican Governor Chris Christie signed New Jersey’s conversion therapy ban in 2013.
“Conversion therapy is damaging and harmful to those who must endure it, especially children. This discredited practice has been rejected for years by countless medical and mental health organizations,” said Sen. Booker. “All people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, deserve to be treated with compassion and respect. This resolution seeks to unite members of the Senate around the idea that this shameful practice has no place in our society.”
“Conversion therapy is not therapeutic and has no place in our society,” said Sen. Brown. “Experts agree that the practice is harmful, ineffective, and should not be used in health care facilities or counseling centers. We must take steps to protect minors from the emotional trauma that conversion therapy can cause and stand in support of policies that are inclusive of the LGBT community.”
Despite the warnings of healthcare professionals, some continue to conduct conversion therapy, taking advantage of parents and harming vulnerable youth. This practice is especially harmful to young Americans who are more susceptible to coercion. Practitioners often use shame, rejection, and psychological abuse in a futile attempt to try and change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Those that experience this traumatizing practice often become depressed and experience low self-esteem. In some cases these individuals engage in substance abuse and even commit suicide.
The Booker-Brown conversion therapy resolution (S. Res. 184) is cosponsored by Sens. Sanders (I-VT), Markey (D-MA), Franken (D-MN), Murphy (D-CT), Shaheen (D-NH), Gillibrand (D-NY), Wyden (D-OR), Whitehouse (D-RI), Menendez (D-NJ), Warren (D-MA), Baldwin (D-WI), Schumer (D-NY), Heinrich (D-NM), Merkley (D-OR), Boxer (D-CA), Udall (D-NM), Hirono (D-HI), Stabenow (D-MI), Peters (D-MI), Casey (D-PA), Schatz (D-HI), Murray (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), and Durbin (D-IL).