STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today unanimously
approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Edith H. Ajello banning “conversion
therapy” on children by licensed health care or human services professionals.
The legislation (2017-H 5277A)
takes aim at the discredited practice of trying to use various forms of therapy
or treatment to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or
eliminate or reduce a person’s attraction or feelings toward individuals of the
“Conversion therapy is worse than ineffective; it can be
extremely harmful, especially in children. Sexual orientation, as well as
gender identity, is widely recognized by science and medicine as simply innate
to a person. It is no more a disease or a condition that needs to be changed
than is race or eye color. Putting someone, especially a young person, through
conversion therapy can lead them to a host of serious problems including
depression, substance abuse, isolation and suicide,” said Representative Ajello
(D-Dist. 1, Providence.)
“Conversion therapy is not a legitimate, scientific,
medically recognized therapy, and one should represent it as such. It should
not be offered at all, and particularly not by anyone who is a licensed health
care provider, to children. Any provider who purports to offer such a bogus and
harmful service to children should be subject to license suspension or
revocation, for the protection of the public,” continued Representative Ajello.
The bill prohibits licensed health care professionals from
advertising or engaging conversion therapy efforts with minors under age 18,
and establishes that doing so shall be considered unprofessional conduct,
subject to license suspension or revocation. It applies to medical
professionals, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, mental
health professionals and human services professionals.
Numerous national and international medical associations,
including the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric
Association, the American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs,
the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Academy of Child and
Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American
Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, have issued
statements against or otherwise taken action against conversion therapy.
At the committee hearing on the bill earlier this spring,
testimony was overwhelmingly in favor of the bill. Nearly 90 people testified,
many telling compelling, deeply personal stories of their experiences. Only one
person testified against the bill.
Currently, conversion therapy for minors is banned in New
Jersey, California, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Vermont and New Mexico.
The legislation is cosponsored by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara
(D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), Rep. Susan R. Donovan (D-Dist. 69, Bristol,
Portsmouth), Rep. Aaron Regunberg (D-Dist. 4, Providence) and Rep. Moira J.
Walsh (D-Dist. 3, Providence). It will now go the Senate, where Sen. Donna M.
Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence) is sponsoring similar
legislation (2017-S 0267).