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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 12, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 07
FTC should stop conversion therapy, Sen. Patty Murray says
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FTC should stop conversion therapy, Sen. Patty Murray says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Sen. Patty Murray called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take 'decisive action' to stop conversion therapy, in a letter dated February 10.

In addition to Murray, the letter was signed by Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Reps. Jackie Speier and Ted Lieu of California. Murray is the ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

The FTC is charged with regulating interstate commerce and has the authority to stop 'unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.'

In the letter, Murray cited an American Psychological Association finding that 'efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm.'

Patients who have been subjected to conversion therapy often experience depression or anxiety disorders or are involved in substance abuse, and some attempt suicide.

Murray noted that young people grappling with issues of sexual identity are especially vulnerable to psychological harm, and she said this is a reason why the federal agency should intervene to stop the practice nationwide.

'Perhaps most concerning are the effects of this harmful therapy on children and youth,' Murray's letter says.

'Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) children and youth are at increased risk of suicide, substance use disorder, and engaging in other high-risk behaviors compared to their peers.

'Therapeutic support can be useful for children and youth who are LGBT or questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity, resulting in more confidence and acceptance, important elements of healthy child development.

'However, conversion therapy provokes guilt, anxiety, and societal rejection that negatively impact healthy development of children and youth, contrary to the claims of [conversion therapy] practitioners.'

The letter concludes that conversion therapy is an 'unfair, deceptive, and fraudulent practice' that should be banned.

A 2015 report by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also concluded that conversion therapy is harmful.

'Directing the child or adolescent to conform to any particular gender expression or identity, or directing parents and guardians to place pressure on the child or adolescent to conform to specific gender expressions and or identities, is inappropriate and reinforces harmful gender stereotypes,' the report said.

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