1Prohibiting mental health professionals from engaging in sexual
2orientation change efforts with an individual under 18 years
3of age.

4The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
5hereby enacts as follows:

6Section 1. Short title.

7The act shall be known and may be cited as the Protection of
8Minors from Sexual Orientation Change Counseling Act.

9Section 2.  Legislative findings.

10The General Assembly finds and declares as follows:

11(1) Being lesbian, gay or bisexual is not a disease,
12disorder, illness, deficiency or shortcoming. The major
13professional associations of mental health practitioners and
14researchers in the United States have recognized this fact
15for nearly 40 years.

16(2) The American Psychological Association convened a
17Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual

1Orientation. The task force conducted a systematic review of
2peer-reviewed journal literature on sexual orientation change
3efforts and issued a report in 2009. The task force concluded
4that sexual orientation change efforts can pose critical
5health risks to lesbian, gay and bisexual people, including
6confusion, depression, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness,
7shame, social withdrawal, suicidality, substance abuse,
8stress, disappointment, self-blame, decreased self-esteem and
9authenticity to others, increased self-hatred, hostility and
10blame toward parents, feelings of anger and betrayal, loss of
11friends and potential romantic partners, problems in sexual
12and emotional intimacy, sexual dysfunction, high-risk sexual
13behaviors, a feeling of being dehumanized and untrue to self,
14a loss of faith and a sense of having wasted time and

16(3)  The American Psychological Association issued a
17resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual
18Orientation Distress and Change Efforts in 2009, which
19advises "parents, guardians, young people, and their families
20to avoid sexual orientation change efforts that portray
21homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder
22and to seek psychotherapy, social support, and educational
23services that provide accurate information on sexual
24orientation and sexuality, increase family and school
25support, and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth."

26(4)  The American Psychiatric Association published a
27position statement in March of 2000 in which it stated:

28(i)  "Psychotherapeutic modalities to convert or
29'repair' homosexuality are based on developmental
30theories whose scientific validity is questionable.

1Furthermore, anecdotal reports of 'cures' are
2counterbalanced by anecdotal claims of psychological
3harm. In the last four decades, 'reparative' therapists
4have not produced any rigorous scientific research to
5substantiate their claims of cure. Until there is such
6research available, the American Psychiatric Association
7recommends that ethical practitioners refrain from
8attempts to change individuals' sexual orientation,
9keeping in mind the medical dictum to first, do no harm."

10(ii)  "The potential risks of reparative therapy are
11great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive
12behavior, since therapist alignment with societal
13prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-
14hatred already experienced by the patient. Many patients
15who have undergone reparative therapy relate that they
16were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely,
17unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or
18satisfaction. The possibility that the person might
19achieve happiness and satisfying interpersonal
20relationships as a gay man or lesbian is not presented,
21nor are alternative approaches to dealing with the
22effects of societal stigmatization discussed."

23(iii)  "Therefore, the American Psychiatric
24Association opposes any psychiatric treatment such as
25reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the
26assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder
27or based upon the a priori assumption that a patient
28should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation."

29(5)  The American School Counselor Association's position
30statement on professional school counselors and lesbian, gay,

1bisexual, transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth states
2that "it is not the role of the professional school counselor
3to attempt to change a student's sexual orientation/gender
4identity but instead to provide support to LGBTQ students to
5promote student achievement and personal well-being.
6Recognizing that sexual orientation is not an illness and
7does not require treatment, professional school counselors
8may provide individual student planning or responsive
9services to LGBTQ students to promote self-acceptance, deal
10with social acceptance, understand issues related to coming
11out, including issues that families may face when a student
12goes through this process and identify appropriate community

14(6)  The American Academy of Pediatrics in 1993 published
15an article in its journal, Pediatrics, stating that "therapy
16directed at specifically changing sexual orientation is
17contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while
18having little or no potential for achieving changes in

20(7)  The American Medical Association Council on
21Scientific Affairs prepared a report in 1994 in which it
22stated that "aversion therapy (a behavioral or medical
23intervention which pairs unwanted behavior, in this case,
24homosexual behavior, with unpleasant sensations or aversive
25consequences) is no longer recommended for gay men and
26lesbians. Through psychotherapy, gay men and lesbians can
27become comfortable with their sexual orientation and
28understand the societal response to it."

29(8)  The National Association of Social Workers prepared
30a 1997 policy statement in which it stated that "social

1stigmatization of lesbian, gay and bisexual people is
2widespread and is a primary motivating factor in leading some
3people to seek sexual orientation changes. Sexual orientation
4conversion therapies assume that homosexual orientation is
5both pathological and freely chosen. No data demonstrates
6that reparative or conversion therapies are effective, and,
7in fact, they may be harmful."

8(9)  The American Counseling Association Governing
9Council issued a position statement in April of 1999, and in
10it the council states that they "oppose 'the promotion of
11"reparative therapy" as a "cure" for individuals who are

13(10)  The American Psychoanalytic Association issued a
14position statement in June 2012 on attempts to change sexual
15orientation, gender, identity, or gender expression, and in
16it the association states:

17(i)  "As with any societal prejudice, bias against
18individuals based on actual or perceived sexual
19orientation, gender identity or gender expression
20negatively affects mental health, contributing to an
21enduring sense of stigma and pervasive self-criticism
22through the internalization of such prejudice."

23(ii)  "Psychoanalytic technique does not encompass
24purposeful attempts to 'convert,' 'repair,' change or
25shift an individual's sexual orientation, gender identity
26or gender expression. Such directed efforts are against
27fundamental principles of psychoanalytic treatment and
28often result in substantial psychological pain by
29reinforcing damaging internalized attitudes."

30(11)  The American Academy of Child and Adolescent

1Psychiatry in 2012 published an article in its journal,
2Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent 
3Psychiatry, stating that "clinicians should be aware that
4there is no evidence that sexual orientation can be altered
5through therapy, and that attempts to do so may be harmful.
6There is no empirical evidence adult homosexuality can be
7prevented if gender nonconforming children are influenced to
8be more gender conforming. Indeed, there is no medically
9valid basis for attempting to prevent homosexuality, which is
10not an illness. On the contrary, such efforts may encourage
11family rejection and undermine self-esteem, connectedness and
12caring, important protective factors against suicidal
13ideation and attempts. Given that there is no evidence that
14efforts to alter sexual orientation are effective, beneficial
15or necessary, and the possibility that they carry the risk of
16significant harm, such interventions are contraindicated."

17(12)  The Pan American Health Organization, a regional
18office of the World Health Organization, issued a statement
19in May of 2012 and in it the organization states that "these
20supposed conversion therapies constitute a violation of the
21ethical principles of health care and violate human rights
22that are protected by international and regional agreements."
23The organization also noted that reparative therapies "lack
24medical justification and represent a serious threat to the
25health and well-being of affected people."

26(13)  Minors who experience family rejection based on
27their sexual orientation face especially serious health
28risks. In one study, lesbian, gay and bisexual young adults
29who reported higher levels of family rejection during
30adolescence were 8.4 times more likely to report having

1attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high
2levels of depression, 3.4 times more likely to use illegal
3drugs and 3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in
4unprotected sexual intercourse compared with peers from
5families that reported no or low levels of family rejection.
6This is documented by Caitlin Ryan, David Huebner, Rafael
7Diaz and Jorge Sanchez in their article entitled Family 
8Rejection as a Predictor of Negative Health Outcomes in White 
9and Latino Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Young Adults (2009) 123
10Pediatrics 346.

11(14)  Pennsylvania has a compelling interest in
12protecting the physical and psychological well-being of
13minors, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
14youth, and in protecting its minors against exposure to
15serious harms caused by sexual orientation change efforts.

16Section 3.  Definitions.

17The following words and phrases when used in this act shall
18have the meanings given to them in this section, unless the
19context clearly indicates otherwise:

20"Mental health professional." An individual who is licensed,
21certified or otherwise authorized to administer or provide
22professional mental health care or counseling under the act of
23March 23, 1972 (P.L.136, No.52), known as the Professional
24Psychologists Practice Act, the act of July 9, 1976 (P.L.817,
25No.143), known as the Mental Health Procedures Act, the act of
26December 20, 1985 (P.L.457, No.112), known as the Medical
27Practice Act of 1985 or the act of July 9, 1987 (P.L.220,
28No.39), known as the Social Workers, Marriage and Family
29Therapists and Professional Counselors Act.

30"Sexual orientation change efforts."  Any practices by mental

1health professionals that seek to change an individual's sexual
2orientation, including, but not limited to, efforts to change
3behaviors, gender identity or gender expressions, or to reduce
4or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward
5an individual of the same gender. The term does not include
6counseling for an individual seeking to transition from one
7gender to another, counseling that provides acceptance, support
8and understanding of an individual or facilitates an
9individual's coping, social support and identity exploration and
10development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions
11to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual
12practices, or counseling that does not seek to change sexual

14Section 4. Sexual orientation change efforts prohibited.

15(a)  General rule.--A mental health professional shall not
16engage in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual
17under 18 years of age.

18(b)  Consent of minors.--Nothing in this act shall be
19construed to prevent a minor from voluntarily consenting to
20mental health care as provided in the act of February 13, 1970
21(P.L.19, No.10), entitled "An act enabling certain minors to
22consent to medical, dental and health services, declaring
23consent unnecessary under certain circumstances."

24Section 5. Effective date.

25This act shall take effect immediately.