As young Democrats, we are proud of the role that Massachusetts has played in the advancement of LGBTQIA rights in the US. We were the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. We have strong laws to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity — overwhelmingly reaffirmed by the voters on the ballot in November.
However, we lag behind other states when it comes to protecting members of the LGBTQIA community from the abusive practice known as conversion therapy. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have already banned the use of conversion therapy for minors, in which licensed mental health practitioners try to change an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation. Every state bordering Massachusetts — Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont — has already passed such a law.
Conversation therapy has been rebuked by the American Psychiatric organization, which has stated clearly that it increases the risk of depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior. LGBTQIA teens are already at a greater risk for mental health complications. Conversion therapy also runs counter to the National Association of Social Workers’ code of ethics, the first line of which focuses “enhancing human well being.”
Last year, the Massachusetts House voted overwhelmingly to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors, but the bill failed to make it into law given the chaotic shuffle of the end of the session. This is too important to delay any further. We urge the swift passage of H.140, An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors, as well as further steps to keep Massachusetts on the forefront of protecting LGBTQIA rights, where it belongs.