RI General Assembly Approves Bill Banning Conversion Therapy for Minors

Bill now on its way to the office of Governor Raimondo for signature; will prohibit licensed mental health providers from using the discredited and harmful practice on children and adolescents

(Providence, RI - July 1, 2017) - The Rhode Island General Assembly last night voted for final passage of a bill sponsored by Rep. Edith Ajello to prohibit licensed mental health providers from using the discredited and harmful practice on children and adolescents.

"We are thrilled with this final vote by the General Assembly, and with the strong support across both the House and Senate for this important measure," said Wendy Becker, a coordinator of the efforts to ban conversion therapy in Rhode Island. "We know that conversion therapy is dangerous, harmful, and clinically unsound. Passing this law will make Rhode Island a safer and more welcoming place for LGBTQ youth. I'm especially grateful for the leadership of Representatives Edith Ajello and Joseph McNamara, and Senators Donna Nesselbush, Joshua Miller, and Gayle Goldin, who made it a priority to pass this bill this session."

So-called "conversion therapy" encompasses a variety of discredited practices that falsely claim to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. Conversion therapy has been rejected as both ineffective and harmful by every mainstream medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and Rhode Island Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The practice can be especially harmful to youth, leaving them at increased risk for depression, anxiety, substance use, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide.

The bill prohibits any licensed healthcare professional in Rhode Island from practicing conversion therapy with anyone under 18.

"Banning conversion therapy will make a tremendous difference for LGBTQ youth in Rhode Island," said Janson Wu, Executive Director of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, one of the organizations working to support the bill. "Attempts to change a person's gender identity or sexual orientation not only do not work, they are harmful. We should be working to create a climate where all youth feel supported and affirmed. I'm thankful to Rhode Island's legislators for recognizing that, and for voting to send a message to LGBTQ youth that they are ok just as they are."

The bill is now on its way to the office of Governor Gina Raimondo for signature. Rhode Island would join Nevada, Connecticut, California, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont and Washington DC in banning the harmful and discredited practice.

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