Last week a poll was released showing overwhelming bi-partisan support for outlawing so-called “conversion” therapy that attempts to “cure” young people of being lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
Still, The Mental Health Protection Act — a bill that would do just that — is expected to have a hard time getting a vote (or even a hearing) in this legislative session of the North Carolina General Assembly.
The bill would prohibit licensed therapists, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists or paid pastoral counselors from attempting the therapy on anyone under 18 or on disabled adults. They could risk losing their licenses if they don’t comply. The state would be prohibited from subsidizing the practice, covering it through insurance or giving money to organizations that practice it.
Fifteen states and Washington, D.C. now have laws outlawing the “conversion” therapy. Massachusetts appears close to becoming the sixteenth state. But no state in the Southeast has yet outlawed it.
As LGBTQ advocates press for North Carolina to be the first, it’s worth considering some disturbing numbers from the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy at UCLA School of Law.
Last year the institute estimated:
* 698,000 LGBTQ adults (18-59) in the U.S. have received conversion therapy.
* That number includes 350,000 LGBTQ adults who received the treatment when they were adolescents.
* About 20,000 LGBTQ young people (13-17) will receive conversion therapy from a licensed healthcare professional before they reach the age of 18 in the states that did not, as of last year, ban the practice.
* About 6,000 LGBTQ young people (13-17) living in states that do ban conversion therapy would have received the therapy from a licensed health care professional before they turned 18 if their state had not instituted a ban.
* Across all states, about 57,000 LGBTQ young people (13-17) will receive conversion therapy from religious or spiritual advisors before reaching the age of 18.
The practice has been condemned by nearly every major professional health association, including: the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, The National Association of School Psychologists, The American Psychoanalytic Association and the American Counseling Association.