D.C. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) has introduced a bill calling for banning mental health practitioners licensed by the city from performing so-called “ex-gay” or “conversion” therapy on juveniles.
The Conversion Therapy for Minors Prohibition Amendment Act of 2013, which Cheh introduced on Oct. 1, would prohibit licensed providers from engaging in “sexual orientation change efforts with an individual who is under the age of 18.”
The bill says a violation of the prohibition “shall be considered unacceptable conduct within the mental health profession and shall subject a provider to discipline and penalties set forth” in existing city laws regulating the mental health profession.
Most of the nation’s leading mental health advocacy and professional organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, have said conversion therapy doesn’t result in changing someone’s sexual orientation from gay to straight. Experts associated with those groups have said conversion therapy often leads to harmful psychological effects, including depression.
Other states, including California and New Jersey, have adopted similar legislation banning providers from performing conversation therapy on minors.
All of Cheh’s Council colleagues except Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill.
“This is quackery that has resulted in a great deal of harm to LGBT young people,” said Rick Rosendall, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance. “The main purpose of the bill is to protect LGBT youth from this quackery.”
It’s unknown how many — if any — “ex-gay” therapy providers are currently practicing in D.C.