Bill would ban gay conversion therapy at youth boot camps

Bill would ban gay conversion therapy at youth boot camps
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House lawmakers have introduced legislation to ban the practice of gay conversion therapy and other forms of child abuse at youth boot camps and residential treatment programs.

The bill unveiled Tuesday by Reps. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff to subpoena top DHS official, alleges whistleblower deposition is being stonewalled Schiff claims DHS is blocking whistleblower's access to records before testimony GOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power MORE (D-Calif.) and Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenEx-Florida GOP congresswoman under federal investigation: report 'Trump show' convention sparks little interest on K Street Shalala to face Salazar in Florida rematch MORE (R-Fla.) is modeled after the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act, which former Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) championed before his retirement. The legislation passed the House but was never signed into law.


Residential treatment programs have existed for several decades as a last resort treatment option for children with mental health issues.

But lawmakers say they are concerned about reports of physical and emotional abuse at programs that use conversion therapy to try and change the sexual orientation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children.

Schiff and Lehtinen’s bill would prohibit any form of child abuse, including deprivation of water, food or medical care as part of mental health or behavioral treatment. It would also set minimum standards for residential treatment programs that require facilities to give children reasonable access to their families and a hotline to report instances of abuse, and it would require staff members to be properly trained to identify instances of child abuse.

The bill would establish civil penalties for any violation of these standards and force programs to employ safe and evidence-based treatment that protects children against harmful or fraudulent practices.

States would also be required to work with the Department of Health and Human Services to report and investigate instances of child abuse at residential treatment programs, establish standards that are at least as strict as federal standards, and develop policies that ensure every program in the state is properly licensed.

"While many residential treatment and youth 'boot' camp programs help young people who are at risk, I am increasingly concerned about reports of malfeasance in some camps,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a news release, referring to a 2008 Government Accountability Office report “Some practices, such as starvation, excessive physical restraints, and neglectful medical treatment, are intolerable in any setting.

Though sexual orientation and gender identity are immutable characteristics, she said other programs seek to behaviorally modify LGBT youth.

“No one should undergo this physical or emotional abuse, and Adam and I are proud to help take the first step in solving this important problem," she said.