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New Brief Details Laws Protecting LGBT Youth from Harmful Conversion Therapy

As President Announces Support for Ban, New Report Offers Latest Data on Laws Protecting Minors from Dangerous Practice

Denver, April 10, 2015 — President Obama this week announced that he supports banning the use of harmful and controversial conversion therapy practices on minors who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). Today, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) released a new brief detailing the latest information on laws protecting LGBT youth from conversion therapy practices that attempt to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. These practices, which may include techniques such as shaming, hypnosis, inducing vomiting, and electric shocks, have been widely discredited and renounced, including by groups like the American Psychological Association.

LGBT Policy Spotlight: Conversion Therapy Bans, outlines the harms of conversion therapy and gives an overview of current laws protecting LGBT youth.

“Studies show LGBT youth are already disproportionately likely to face bullying, harassment and family rejection just because of who they are,” said Ineke Mushovic, Executive Director of MAP. “So-called ‘conversion therapy,’ further rejects these youth and sets them up for a range of negative mental health outcomes through the futile and unnecessary exercise of trying to change who they are. Banning these extremely hurtful and discredited practices is an important step to protecting the most vulnerable members of the LGBT community.”

California, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. have already passed laws to prevent state-licensed mental health professionals from attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender identity/expression of minor patients. Both states and the District based the law on the unanimous consensus of the nation’s leading medical and mental health associations, which have determined that such treatments have no scientific basis and put youth at risk of serious harms, including elevated rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide.

Since last year, lawmakers in 23 other states have introduced similar legislation. Currently, 18 states are considering bans, including active legislation in Oregon, Illinois, and Iowa. However, anti-LGBT activists are attempting to secure their ability to engage in harmful conversion therapy practices. Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern recently introduced the so-called “Freedom to Obtain Conversion Therapy Act (HB1598),” which would allow therapists to engage in conversion therapy and protect parents who force their children to undergo such treatment. The bill passed out of an Oklahoma House committee in February 2015 but failed in the state House in April. Anti-LGBT activists have also unsuccessfully sued to have existing conversion therapy bans overturned.

Updated daily, the Movement Advancement Project’s Equality Maps offer the latest information as conversion therapy ban legislation advances in states across the country. In addition to mapping conversion therapy bans, MAP, in collaboration with GLSEN, features Safe Schools maps to better distinguish between anti-bullying legislation, laws that protect against discrimination in schools, and harmful laws that prohibit protection of LGBT students.

The Equality Maps track LGBT equality, populations, and other data by state. They provide up-to-date information on the status of state laws across a wide range of issues, from employment discrimination and relationship recognition to hate crimes protections and anti-bullying laws. The Equality Maps allow websites to embed the maps easily and for free. Visit to learn more.


MAP's mission is to provide independent and rigorous research, insight and communications that help speed equality and opportunity for all. MAP works to ensure that all people have a fair chance to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, take care of the ones they love, be safe in their communities, and participate in civic life.

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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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