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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 29, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 26
Maine legislature sends bipartisan legislation to governor to protect LGBTQ youth from dangerous 'conversion therapy'
Section One
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Maine legislature sends bipartisan legislation to governor to protect LGBTQ youth from dangerous 'conversion therapy'

WASHINGTON, DC - [On June 26], the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, hailed the Maine legislature's passage of bipartisan legislation to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called 'conversion therapy.' With a final version approved [on June 26] by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, the measure now heads to Gov. Paul LePage for consideration. If signed or allowed to become law by the governor, Maine would join 14 other states plus the District of Columbia with laws or regulations protecting LGBTQ youth from the dangerous practice.

'This critically important legislation will help ensure that children in Maine are not subjected to a practice that amounts to nothing less than child abuse,' said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. 'It's now imperative that fair-minded people across the state contact Gov. LePage's office and urge him to sign this bill protecting LGBTQ youth or allow it to become law. Other Republican governors across the country - including most recently in neighboring New Hampshire - have signed similar bipartisan legislation, and it's vital for Maine's LGBTQ youth that Gov. LePage do the same.'

'We are pleased that both chambers of the legislature have finally passed these needed protections for LGBTQ youth in Maine,' said Equality Maine Executive Director Matt Moonen. 'We call upon the governor not to veto this needed bill that can save lives.'

There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior. The harmful practice is condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Medical Association.

Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, and New Hampshire all now have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice. A growing number of municipalities have also enacted similar protections, including cities and counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, Florida, New York, Arizona, and Wisconsin.

According to a recent report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, an estimated 20,000 LGBTQ minors in states without protections will be subjected to conversion therapy by a licensed health care professional if state lawmakers fail to act.

The HRC has partnered with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation ending conversion therapy. In Maine, the HRC is working closely with the NCLR, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and Equality Maine in the effort. More information on the lies and dangers of efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity can be found [at https://www.hrc.org/resources/just-as-they-are].

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. The HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work, and in every community.

Courtesy of HRC

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