State News
June 7, 2016

Shumlin signs law to ban conversion therapy

S.132 takes effect July 1, a victory in civil rights for the LGBT community

At a time when some states are working to erode hard-fought advances in civil rights for the LGBT community, Gov. Peter Shumlin signed a law May 25 to advance them in Vermont by banning the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy. The new law bans the practice of seeking to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity in the State of Vermont.

“It’s absurd to think that being gay or transgender is something to be cured of,” Gov. Shumlin said. “Our country has come a long way in a short period of time in recognizing the civil rights of members of the LGBT community, and I am so proud that Vermont has taken a leadership role at every step of the way. At a time when the rights of LGBT individuals are under attack in other parts of the country, Vermont will continue to stand up to hatred and bigotry and show the rest of the country what tolerance, understanding, and common humanity look like.”

Conversion therapy has been widely discredited by the scientific community. A 2015 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that “variations in sexual orientation and gender identity are normal, and that conversion therapies or other efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity are not effective, are harmful, and are not appropriate therapeutic practices.”

Vermont joins California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. in enacting a law to ban conversion therapy. Earlier this year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced regulations to ban public and private insurers from covering the practice.

“We are thrilled that Vermont has joined the rapidly growing number of states leading the way to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy,” said the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Youth Policy Counsel Carolyn Reyes. “Vermont families can now have confidence that the mental health professional they turn to in times of uncertainty may not use their state license to profit from their children’s pain. Most importantly, Vermont children can now rest easy in the knowledge that they cannot be forced or coerced to undergo dangerous and discredited treatments to try to change who they are. Today brings us one step closer to the day when all LGBTQ youth know they were born perfect.”

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