In a matter of two weeks, Nevada and Connecticut became the seventh and eighth U.S. states to ban conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth. On May 17, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (R) signed a bill banning the use of conversion therapy on minors who identify as LGBTQ, a week after Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy (D) signed a similar measure.
The Nevada bill, sponsored and led by openly gay State Senator David Parks (D) and Assembly Member Nelson Araujo (D), was approved by a bipartisan coalition of legislators in both chambers. In Connecticut, State Representatives Jeffrey Currey (D) and Beth Bye (D), who are both openly gay, introduced and co-sponsored the equally bipartisan bill that made it to Governor Malloy’s desk.
The practice of conversion therapy to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ youth has been discredited by a broad group of medical professionals, including the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and others.
Nevada and Connecticut join California, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Illinois, Oregon, Vermont and the District of Columbia in banning conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth.
State lawmakers aren’t the only ones taking action. In late April, several Democratic members of Congress introduced a bill to ban conversion therapy nationwide. The Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2017 would label conversion therapy as fraudulent with the Federal Trade Commission, effectively shutting down most anti-LGBTQ therapy programs in the United States.
Nevertheless, representation is power. And, in this political climate, opportunities to protect LGBTQ youth and advance equality arise when LGBTQ leaders are the leading voices at decision-making tables and in legislative chambers.