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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 1, 2020 11:54 AM
From: Senator Anthony H. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: Prohibiting Sexual Orientation Change or "Conversion" Therapy for Minors
In the near future, I plan to reintroduce legislation to 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 2018, The Williams Institute estimated that 77,000 LGBT youth receive conversion therapy annually from a licensed health care professional or religious or spiritual advisor before they reach the age of 18 in states that do not currently ban the practice. Research spanning decades confirms 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. The American Psychological Association's Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation has long held that methods used "to convert or 'repair' homosexuality are based on developmental theories whose scientific validity is questionable," and urges that we avoid sexual orientation change efforts that portray sexual orientation as a mental illness or developmental disorder.

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 717-787-5970. Thank you for your consideration

Introduced as SB26