The Hawaii House of Representatives passed a bill that protects LGBTQ youth from having to undergo harmful “conversion therapy.” Known by research to be emotionally damaging and ineffective at trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or expression, conversion therapy practices are being ban in states and municipalities across the country. Just last week, Maryland was also added to the list along with California, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, New Mexico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Nevada, and Washington, of states that have passed regulations protecting their LGBTQ youths from similar practices. Last week, Maryland House of Delgates Republican Meagan Simonaire shared a personal story of the pain she suffered upon coming out about her bisexuality to her family, and their response in seeking “conversion therapy” to “fix her.” Meagan Simonaire, the daughter of State Sen. Bryan Simonaire left lasting impressions on many legislatures, as her words “It’s impossible to fix something that was never broken in the first place” resonnated strongly.
The recently passed bills in Hawaii and Maryland will go before the state’s governors in the hopes of stopping licensed medical and mental health providers from being able to practice this type of therapy on minors. The American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association have all already discredited and condemned the practice of “conversion” or “reparative therapy” in the United States, and Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President for Policy and political Affairs agrees that “it is time Hawaii join the growing number of states” working towards this protective legislation.
A recently published report by the UCLA School of Law estimates that 20,000 LGBTQ youths are still at risk of receiving “conversion therapy” from a licensed health professional, and an even more shocking 57,000 youths are in danger of treatment by less regulated religious and spiritual advisors. The bills and laws being passed by the handfuls of states and municipalities regulating licensed professionals is hopefully the start of a snowball effect with other governing bodies to protect our LGBTQ community youths.