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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: March 2, 2015 11:50 AM
From: Representative Brian Sims and Rep. Gerald J. Mullery
To: All House members
Subject: Protection of Minors from Conversion Therapy Act
In the near future, we plan to re-introduce legislation – House Bill 1811 – that prohibits mental health providers from engaging in conversion therapy with a patient under 18 years of age.

Sexual orientation conversion therapy refers to counseling and psychotherapy attempting to eliminate or suppress homosexuality. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association excluded homosexuality from being classified as a mental disorder. Despite declarations from major medical, health and mental health organizations supporting the American Psychiatric Association’s position on homosexuality, many make efforts to attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation through psychotherapy. According to studies published by the American Psychological Association, patients under 18 years of age suffer from a multitude of harmful effects associated with conversion therapy including withdrawal and suicidal thoughts.

California, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., now ban state-licensed therapists from engaging in sexual orientation conversion therapy with minors. Court challenges to both the California and New Jersey laws ended with the bans being upheld and declared constitutional, citing evidence that conversion therapies are not effective and indeed cause harm to minors.

We believe it is time that Pennsylvania join these states and Washington, D.C., in prohibiting mental health providers from engaging in conversion therapy. Accordingly, we will be introducing the “The Protection of Minors from Conversion Therapy Act.” As its name indicates, our bill will prohibit mental health providers from engaging in conversion therapy with patients under 18 years of age.

Scholars are skeptical of the practice of conversion therapy as they believe it is a social phenomenon that ultimately harms the individual. Moreover, studies have concluded that there is insufficient evidence that conversion therapy is effective for changing sexual orientation and that such efforts could result in damaging long-term effects for minors. Therefore, like any other harmful act that is prohibited by Pennsylvania law, we must protect Pennsylvania’s youth from conversion therapy.

Please join us in co-sponsoring this important legislation. Should you have questions about this legislation, please contact Mason Lane in Rep. Sims’ office at mlane@pahouse.net or (717) 787-5741.

Introduced as HB935