The state of Massachusetts has become the 16th state to officially ban ‘gay conversion therapy’ for minors. And the trend is continuing, with a bill now being sponsored in Congress that would prohibit Medicare funding for it.
‘Gay conversion therapy,’ in case you didn’t know, seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and regards LGBTQ identities as an illness to be corrected. The basis of and practice of ‘gay conversion therapy’ has been discredited and is widely considered harmful.
It has been reported that the practice of ‘gay conversion therapy” can sometimes involve “aversion therapy” with the use of electric shocks, forced vomiting, and other unsound methods, as the punishment for undesired behaviors. But even without those extreme cases, the damage to the youth forced undergo these alleged treatments is very real.
These alleged treatments have been found to increase the likelihood that a youth will suffer severe psychological distress, as well as the odds of that youth attempting suicide. In fact, a recent study found that the risk that a youth would attempt suicide is increased by five times if they undergo the alleged treatment.
The Law Moving Forward
Thus far, while many states still have not followed suit, the general consensus seems to be that the practice is dangerous, and can even be fatal. For adults who undergo conversion therapy, the risks are astounding and can include:
Depression, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, shame, social withdrawal, suicidality, substance abuse, stress, disappointment, self-blame, decreased self-esteem and authenticity to others, increased self-hatred, hostility and blame toward parents, feelings of anger and betrayal, loss of friends and potential romantic partners, problems in sexual and emotional intimacy, sexual dysfunction, high-risk sexual behaviors, a feeling of being dehumanized and untrue to self, a loss of faith, and a sense of having wasted time and resources.
And for minors, those risks are even greater as they are often coupled with the feeling of familial rejection. Notably, the Trevor Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to banning ‘gay conversion therapy’ nationwide. Its goal is to put forth legislation in every state to prohibit licensed health care providers from engaging in the practice with minors. The organization also offers help, such as crisis counseling, to LGBTQ youth in need.