Where States Stand On Conversion Therapy Protections

Where States Stand On Conversion Therapy Protections

Though much light is often shed on how LGBTQ+ freedoms are restricted through censorship and limited freedom of expression in public life, one practice that still lurks in the shadows is conversion therapy. 

By definition, conversion therapy is a medical or mental intervention meant to alter an LGBTQ+ person’s sexuality by means of “therapies” that are often traumatizing physically and emotionally. Those who have undergone conversion therapy experience lifelong effects on their relationships, self-esteem, mental and physical health. 

In December of 2023, a report from The Trevor Project found that the prevalence of conversion therapy across the U.S. is still surprisingly and disturbingly high with over 1300 conversion practitioners are still operating in the country.

Of these, around 46% hold professional licenses to practice, and around 54% operate in a ministerial or religious capacity. What’s more, many of these pose themselves as professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers or psychologists. These practitioners were most concentrated in Pennsylvania, Texas, Missouri, Ohio and Minnesota.

Despite this, in recent months Pennsylvania has become the latest state to pass comprehensive protections against conversion therapy. According to The Trevor Project, “an estimated 16% of LGBTQ+ young people in Pennsylvania reported being threatened with or subjected to conversion therapy in the past year.” 

Currently only 22 states and the District of Columbia have bans on the practice of conversion therapy by licensed mental health providers. States with conversion therapy bans for minors include:  New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia, California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Illinois and Minnesota, and now Pennsylvania. 

According to a comprehensive map from the Movement Advancement Project, states with partial conversion therapy bans for minors are North Carolina, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Arizona. A few straggling states either prohibit local level bans on conversion therapy, or are in a federal judicial circuit with a preliminary injunction preventing the enforcement of conversion therapy bans. The remaining 18 states have no state law or policy surrounding conversion therapy whatsoever. 

States with no laws or policy on conversion therapy include: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, South Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. 

Conversion therapy greatly impacts and traumatizes the LGBTQ community at large. A peer-reviewed study from researchers at The Trevor Project found that LGBTQ+ youth who underwent conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to report having attempted suicide and more than 2.5 times as likely to report multiple suicide attempts in the past year.


Related Post