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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: March 25, 2013 01:36 PM
From: Senator Anthony H. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: Prohibit Sexual Orientation Change or "Conversion" Therapy for Minors
In the future, I plan to introduce legislation that would ban state-licensed mental health professionals from engaging in sexual orientation "reparative"or "conversion" therapy with minors, otherwise referred to as sexual orientation change efforts.

In 2009, the American Psychological Association's Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation issued a report, concluding that sexual orientation change efforts can pose critical health risks to lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, including confusion, depression, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, shame, social withdrawal, suicidality, substance abuse, stress, self-blame, a loss of faith, high-risk sexual behaviors, among several other negative psychological effects. Additionally, the Association stated that methods used "to convert or 'repair' homosexuality are based on developmental theories whose scientific validity is questionable," and issued a resolution urging parents, guardians, young people and their families to avoid sexual orientation change efforts that portray sexual orientation as a mental illness or developmental disorder.

As a result of such findings, similar studies and resolutions that these therapies pose a danger to the mental health of children, I am introducing this legislation to prohibit state-licensed mental health professionals in Pennsylvania from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with a person under the age of 18. Sexual orientation change efforts will include therapies, counseling or other means of practice seeking to change a minor's sexual orientation. Please note that this bill would not prohibit counseling for gender transition or otherwise relating to understanding a person's coping, social support or identity exploration and development. Furthermore, this legislation does not include language to prevent parents from teaching their children whatever they wish regarding sexual orientation, nor does it prohibit the practice or study of a family's personal religious beliefs.

If you have any questions, please contact my office at 787-5970. Thank you for your consideration.

Introduced as SB872