Ending Conversion Therapy in Vermont
The Vermont state Senate has passed a bill, S 132, which would prohibit persons licensed to provide professional counseling from engaging in dangerous and injurious practices aimed to change a minor's sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill is now being considered by the House.
GLAD Staff Attorney Allison Wright has submitted written testimony in support of S 132:
"This practice, most commonly known as 'conversion therapy,' strays from Vermont's long-standing history of preserving the safety and dignity of its LGBTQ residents. As the first state in the nation to offer legal recognition to same-sex relationships in the form of civil unions, the Vermont legislature has a proud history of eradicating discrimination against LGBTQ people as well as enacting laws that ensure the health, safety, and welfare of children. The passage of S 132 is a critical step necessary to further these goals."
Wright's testimony describes the consensus in the medical community that so-called conversion therapy is ineffective and, in fact, harmful, and asserts that the passage of this bill will send a positive message to all LGBTQ youth:
"The harms that come to LGBTQ youth as a result of negative feelings about their own identities, as well as the prevalence of bullying and harassment by others, can be traced in significant part to the underlying notion of abnormality or "otherness." Passage of S 132 will send a powerful and important message to all people: there is nothing about one's sexual orientation or gender identity that needs to be changed because being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer is normal and healthy."
Vermont Adds Gender Identity to Anti-Discrimination Law
Vermont joins Maine and Rhode Island as the third New England state to protect transgender residents by explicitly banning discrimination based on gender identity. On May 22, 2007, Governor Douglas signed legislation adding “gender identity” to the state’s non-discrimination law.
Similar legislation passed both the House and Senate in early 2006, but the Governor vetoed it, citing reservations about the bill’s language. GLAD worked with partners in Vermont throughout the year to address these concerns, and we are pleased to see the bill pass this session.
“New England is very much leading the country in codifying protections in law for trans people,” says GLAD Attorney Jennifer Levi. “Through both court rulings and legislation, GLAD’s work in New England has laid the foundation for the rest of the country to follow.