'No child should be subjected to this': LGBTQ+ community lauds Virginia ban on conversion therapy
The American Psychological Association has called conversion therapy harmful to mental health as it forcibly tries to change sexual orientation or gender identity
LGBTQ activists are rejoicing the ban of conversion therapy for minors in Virginia after Governor Ralph Northam signed the landmark House Bill 386.
Governor Northam told MEA WorldWide (MEAWW), "This issue is personal for me, as a pediatric neurologist who has cared for thousands of children. Conversion therapy is not only based in discriminatory junk-science, it is dangerous and causes lasting harm to our youth. No one should be made to feel wrong for who they are — especially not a child. I'm proud to sign this ban into law."
Not only does it not work, but it also puts those that undergo it at a greater risk of depression and suicide. Conversion therapy has been discredited by The American Psychological Association as not based on science. It has also been deemed harmful to mental health as it forcibly tries to change sexual orientation or gender identity.
Conversion therapy is the pseudoscientific practice of trying to change an individual's sexual orientation to heterosexual using psychological or spiritual interventions.
"We applaud the Commonwealth of Virginia for its decisive action to stop so-called 'conversion therapy'," Paul D Castillo, counsel for civil rights organization Lambda Legal, said in a statement to MEAWW. The organization focuses on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities as well as people living with HIV/AIDS through impact litigation, societal education and public policy work.
With the signing of this law, Virginia has joined 19 other states, the District of Columbia, and numerous municipalities that have banned this harmful and widely discredited practice used on children. "No child should be subjected to these dangerous efforts to try to change who they are, especially when those methods cause lifelong trauma and have been condemned by every mainstream psychological, social science and child welfare organization," Castillo added.
Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, also celebrated the vote. Calling it no less than a "historic breakthrough" for the LGBTQ community, Ferrara said, "It's a clear signal of the rapidly growing public support for LGBTQ equality in the South and sends a salient message: LGBTQ youth must be treated with respect, love and support."
Adam Trimmer, a survivor of conversion therapy who lives in Virginia and the Virginia Ambassador for Born Perfect, said, "I endured anti-LGBTQ conversion therapy and it was devastating. The only effect it had was a negative one, robbing me of years of my life and requiring so much time, energy and therapy to pick up the pieces. If there is one thing I have stood behind in this movement, it is that no one should ever have to go through (this) therapy."
According to the 2019 National Survey on LGBTQ Mental Health released by The Trevor Project, LGBTQ youths who had undergone conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide than those who did not. The survey showed that 42 percent of LGBTQ youth who underwent conversion therapy reported a suicide attempt while 57 percent of transgender and non-binary youths reported a suicide attempt.
Sam Brinton, head of advocacy and government affairs for The Trevor Project who is also a survivor of the "dangerous and fraudulent practice", said that this law would save lives. "I can't fathom just how many young LGBTQ lives may be saved with these critical protections from conversion therapy," Brinton said. "Conversion therapy has no place in modern society and as the first of many LGBTQ-affirming bills to reach the desk of Governor Northam, we are happy to sweep conversion therapy into the dustbin of history," Brinton added.
Sponsored by Delegate Patrick Hope, the law was passed both of the state's Democratic-led chambers last month and will come into effect on July 1.