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
18Orientation. The task force conducted a systematic review of

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

15(3)  The American Psychological Association issued a
16resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual
17Orientation Distress and Change Efforts in 2009, which
18advises "parents, guardians, young people, and their families
19to avoid sexual orientation change efforts that portray
20homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder
21and to seek psychotherapy, social support, and educational
22services that provide accurate information on sexual
23orientation and sexuality, increase family and school
24support, and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth."

25(4)  The American Psychiatric Association published a
26position statement in March of 2000 in which it stated:

27(i)  "Psychotherapeutic modalities to convert or
28'repair' homosexuality are based on developmental
29theories whose scientific validity is questionable.
30Furthermore, anecdotal reports of 'cures' are

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

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

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

28(5)  The American School Counselor Association's position
29statement on professional school counselors and lesbian, gay,
30bisexual, transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth states

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

13(6)  The American Academy of Pediatrics in 1993 published
14an article in its journal, Pediatrics, stating that "therapy
15directed at specifically changing sexual orientation is
16contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while
17having little or no potential for achieving changes in

19(7)  The American Medical Association Council on
20Scientific Affairs prepared a report in 1994 in which it
21stated that "aversion therapy (a behavioral or medical
22intervention which pairs unwanted behavior, in this case,
23homosexual behavior, with unpleasant sensations or aversive
24consequences) is no longer recommended for gay men and
25lesbians. Through psychotherapy, gay men and lesbians can
26become comfortable with their sexual orientation and
27understand the societal response to it."

28(8)  The National Association of Social Workers prepared
29a 1997 policy statement in which it stated that "social
30stigmatization of lesbian, gay and bisexual people is

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

7(9)  The American Counseling Association Governing
8Council issued a position statement in April of 1999, and in
9it the council states that they "oppose 'the promotion of
10"reparative therapy" as a "cure" for individuals who are

12(10)  The American Psychoanalytic Association issued a
13position statement in June 2012 on attempts to change sexual
14orientation, gender, identity, or gender expression, and in
15it the association states:

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

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

29(11)  The American Academy of Child and Adolescent
30Psychiatry in 2012 published an article in its journal,

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

16(12)  The Pan American Health Organization, a regional
17office of the World Health Organization, issued a statement
18in May of 2012 and in it the organization states that "these
19supposed conversion therapies constitute a violation of the
20ethical principles of health care and violate human rights
21that are protected by international and regional agreements."
22The organization also noted that reparative therapies "lack
23medical justification and represent a serious threat to the
24health and well-being of affected people."

25(13)  Minors who experience family rejection based on
26their sexual orientation face especially serious health
27risks. In one study, lesbian, gay and bisexual young adults
28who reported higher levels of family rejection during
29adolescence were 8.4 times more likely to report having
30attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high

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

10(14)  Pennsylvania has a compelling interest in
11protecting the physical and psychological well-being of
12minors, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
13youth, and in protecting its minors against exposure to
14serious harms caused by sexual orientation change efforts.

15Section 3.  Definitions.

16The following words and phrases when used in this act shall
17have the meanings given to them in this section, unless the
18context clearly indicates otherwise:

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

29"Sexual orientation change efforts."  Any practices by mental
30health professionals that seek to change an individual's sexual

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

13Section 4. Sexual orientation change efforts prohibited.

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

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

23Section 5. Effective date.

24This act shall take effect immediately.