State Rep. Babette Josephs has introduced a new bill (H.B. 2691) in Pennsylvania that would ban mental health providers from offering sexual orientation conversion therapy for minors.
“No reputable mainstream mental health association considers being gay, lesbian or bisexual a disease or mental illness,” she says. “Yet, that is exactly the premise behind this kind of therapy – a wrong assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder that can be ‘corrected.’”
Conversion therapy generally purports to change a person’s sexual orientation by using such techniques as aversion or psychoanalytic treatments or spiritual interventions. Many also call it “reparative therapy” or “praying the gay away.”
“As homosexuality is not a disorder, attempts to ‘convert’ the sexual orientation of anyone, particularly a minor, threatens the individual’s short- and long-term health and well-being,” says Josephs, noting that the potential negative effects of these harsh treatments can include depression, substance abuse, self-loathing and even suicide.
“The very concept of ‘correcting’ homosexuality is dehumanizing and contrary to conventional societal norms,” she says. “The fact that minors are forcefully subjected to this therapy that is not based in any scientific fact is unacceptable. Pennsylvania’s children deserve better.”
California recently became the first state to ban conversion therapy for minors. If this new bill is passed, Pennsylvania could also make history.