Story at a glance
- A New Hampshire House bill aims to reverse a state law which bans LGBTQ+ conversion therapy for minors.
- An amendment to the bill would technically leave the ban in place while altering the definition of conversion therapy to only include treatments to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity against their will.
- Conversion therapy has been widely discredited by the nation’s leading medical associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association.
A New Hampshire House bill is seeking to reverse a state law banning LGBTQ+ conversion therapy for minors.
While an earlier draft of the legislation would have repealed the state’s 2018 ban on conversion therapy for children altogether, an amended version would technically leave the ban intact while altering the definition of conversion therapy to include only treatments seeking to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity “against an individual’s will.”
If passed, New Hampshire would become the first state in the U.S. to repeal a law shielding LGBTQ+ youth from conversion therapy. Currently, 20 states have laws in place banning conversion therapy for minors, and five states have partial bans.
Three states — Alabama, Georgia and Florida — are located in a federal judicial circuit with an injunction that prevents the enforcement of bans on conversion therapy practices.
In a letter to New Hampshire House legislators on Friday, five organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Hampshire, the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) and the GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, called on state lawmakers to vote against the bill and its amendment.
“We are alarmed that the proposed amendment to HB 1077 includes a presumption that children consent to conversion therapy unless they can prove otherwise. The practice of conversion therapy on children has been unequivocally proven to be harmful, full stop,” the letter reads.
The letter continues: “To put the burden on children to prove that conversion therapy was not welcome undermines the state’s purpose in banning the practice – to protect children from a debunked, unsafe practice and ensure parents that their children would not be subject to such without their knowledge.”
Conversion therapy has been widely discredited by the nation’s leading medical associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association, which claims that conversion therapy practices are rooted in an “unfounded misconception of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
“Permitting licensed professionals to engage in abusive and fraudulent practices – as long as it supposedly isn’t against a minor’s will – flagrantly disregards the reality that youth are often under tremendous pressure to change and are at well-documented risk of family rejection if they don’t,” Casey Pick, a senior fellow at The Trevor Project, said Monday in a statement. “Make no mistake, if this bill becomes law, it will harm LGBTQ youth and erase the bipartisan protections put in place four years ago.”
Pick recently co-authored a paper which found that, in addition to creating a psychological burden for those affected, conversion therapy generates a massive financial burden, costing the U.S. alone roughly $9 billion each year.
According to a Trevor Project survey on LGBTQ+ youth mental health, 13 percent of LGBTQ+ young people have been subjected to conversion therapy, including 83 percent who say it occurred when they were under the age of 18. A separate Trevor Project study found that LGBTQ+ youth who underwent conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to report having attempted suicide in the past year.
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