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GLAD Senior Attorney Ben Klein Testimony in Support of RI S 480, to Prohibit Conversion Therapy

GLAD Senior Attorney Ben Klein submitted testimony March 31 in support of Rhode Island S 480, which would prohibit licensed health care professionals from engaging in the discredited and harmful practice of seeking to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Excerpts from Klein's testimony:

  • So-called “conversion therapy” is a remnant of our nation’s shameful history of oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.  Its premise is that homosexuality is abnormal behavior and a mental disorder that must therefore be changed.  The Rhode Island legislature has a proud history of eradicating discrimination against LGBT people as well as enacting laws that ensure the health, safety, and welfare of children. The passage of S 480 is a critical step necessary to further these goals.  
  • So-called “conversion therapy” has been proven ineffective, is contrary to modern medicine, and subjects young people to the risk of suicide and other serious psychological harms. 
  • The passage of S 480 is also a significant step that Rhode Island can take to create a better world for those LGBT youth who will never be subjected to “conversion therapy.” Many LGBT youth still grow up believing that there is “something wrong” with who they are, increasing their risk of adverse mental health outcomes. The prohibition of “conversion therapy,” which has its roots in the notion that it is not normal to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, is a powerful step the legislature can take to counter that harmful message. 
  • Courts have upheld the constitutionality of bans on conversion therapy as within the state’s well-established power to regulate healthcare and legislate for the welfare of children.  

Read the full testimony here