Organizers of a newly launched D.C.-based organization aimed at stopping so-called “conversion therapy” for LGBT minors throughout the country announced on Monday they will work with activists and lawmakers in 45 states to advocate for bills to ban the practice.
The organization, called 50 Bills 50 States, will operate as an all-volunteer group. It has already established ties with advocates and legislators to arrange for the introduction of bills to ban conversion therapy for minors in states with deadlines for filing bills in January, according to information posted on its website.
“Conversion therapy is a scam,” said Samuel Brinton, a survivor of conversion therapy and one of the group’s founders.
“It starts with the idea that being lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender or queer is a mental illness,” Brinton said in a statement. “That’s wrong. Our sexualities and gender identities are gifts that should be celebrated,” he said.
The group notes in a statement announcing its launching that conversion therapy for minors has already been banned in five states, including California, New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, and Vermont as well as in Washington, D.C.
“In the states and cities where the bans are already in place, we want to revive the conversation so that LGBTQ kids know they are beautiful and loved,” Brinton said. “And in the other 45 states, we are going to work with legislators to introduce bills banning these brutal practices,” he said.
“We know every state won’t pass these bills in 2017 but the unanimity of submitting them will resonate from coast to coast,” he said.
The group points out in its statement that all major mental health organizations have rejected conversion therapy on grounds that it is ineffective and can cause lasting damage such as depression and sometimes suicide.
Brinton, a nuclear engineer who works full-time for the Bipartisan Policy Center, a D.C.-based think tank, said he has spoken out against conversation therapy for the past decade on his own time throughout the country, including at college campuses and at the United Nations.
He said 50 Bills 50 States has put together several teams of dedicated and knowledgeable volunteers to operate the group’s website and organize supporters in state legislatures.
More information about the organization can be found at 50bills50states.org.