Bennett Klein, Senior Attorney for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) testified today in favor of banning the destructive practice of so-called “conversion therapy” in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  His testimony came at a hearing of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. His testimony can be read here.

H 97, “An Act Relative to Abusive Practices to Change Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity in Minors” would prohibit licensed health care professionals from engaging in the discredited and harmful practice of seeking the change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity. H 97 is sponsored by Rep. Kay Kahn.

“Massachusetts can take a huge step to creating a better world for LGBT youth with this bill,” said Klein.  “Young LGBT people still grow up believing that there is something wrong with who they are, increasing their risk of depression, suicide attempts, and skipping school. Our state can send a powerful message to LGBT youth that they are absolutely okay as they are.”

In addition, Klein testified, “conversion therapy” is considered by mainstream mental health and medical groups to be ineffective and unethical, subjecting patients to significant harm, such as “confusion, depression, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, shame, social withdrawal, and suicidality (American Psychological Association).

If H 97 were to become law, Massachusetts would join California, New Jersey, Oregon, and the District of Columbia in banning the practice.

“So-called “conversion therapy” is nothing more than a remnant of our nation’s shameful history of oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” said Klein. “Even in states that have been leaders in legal equality for LGBT people, too many adults don’t believe that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is just as normal and healthy as being heterosexual or cisgender. We can tell young LGBT people that the opposite is true.”