Public Health Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING THE PROTECTION OF YOUTH FROM CONVERSION THERAPY.
Joint Favorable Substitute
SPONSORS OF BILL:
REASONS FOR BILL: This bill prohibits health care providers, or anyone else engaged in trade or commerce, from engaging in “conversion therapy” (i.e., any practice or treatment administered to a minor that seeks to change the person's sexual orientation or gender identity). The bill specifies certain types of counseling that are not considered conversion therapy (e.g., counseling intended to assist a person undergoing gender transition or facilitate a person's identity exploration and development). The bill provides that (1) engaging in conversion therapy is an unfair trade practice and (2) if a health care provider engages in such therapy, it is considered unprofessional conduct subject to disciplinary action. Finally, the bill prohibits public funds from being spent for conversion therapy, insurance coverage for such therapy, or related actions.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Dannel P. Malloy, Governor: Connecticut prides itself on its long history of supporting equality from members of the LGBTQ community. There is no medical evidence that supports this damaging “therapy”. Framing sexual orientation as an illness or condition requiring correction is destructive.
Nancy Wyman, Lieutenant Governor: This legislation will reinforce the states widely held views that discrimination in any form against any person is anathema to our state values. Conversion therapy leads to an increase of suicidal behaviors, depression, substance abuse and homelessness.
Kevin Lembo, State Comptroller: Conversion therapy is a dangerous practice that seeks to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. This legislation should make an important distinction that the term conversion therapy does not apply to counseling services that support a person's decision to undergo gender transition or support identity exploration and development. Now is an important time for Connecticut to step up and protect a vulnerable member of its population.
Rep. Jeff Currey: As a gay youth and gay adult, I was never broken nor in need of fixing. Being gay is not a disease and therefore does not require a cure. Currently LGBTQ youth in Connecticut are not protected from the destructive practices of conversion therapy and now is the time to act. This bill will not just protect youth but also assist parents in getting good information.
Nancy Navarretta, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services: Conversion therapy is either psychological or spiritual counseling designed to change a person's sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual. There is no evidence that supports the effectiveness of conversion therapy. There evidence that say conversion therapy causes depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) opposes psychiatric treatment based upon the assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder or that a patient should change his/her sexual orientation. The APA describes attempts to change sexual orientation by practitioners as unethical. There is no evidence that conversion therapy can alter sexual orientation and, in fact, the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, and the National Association of Social Workers have also taken the position that this form of “therapy” is not only ineffective, it is ill-advised as it may cause depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior. The DMHAS service system offers mental health treatment supported by informed standards of care and best practices for adults 18 and older. DMHAS also supports evidence-based mental health
promotion programming across the lifespan. DMHAS supports the position of the APA that
conversion therapy has no place in the clinical relationship between therapist and patient.
Office of the Childcare Advocate: HB 6695 would protect children from the harmful effects of conversion therapy. This type of therapy is harmful to vulnerable youth already facing abuse, neglect, and bullying. There is no research base for the use of this type of treatment.
Cherly Sharp, State of Connecticut Commission on Human Rights And Opportunities: Passage of this legislation will protect LGBTQ youth from harmful practices. Conversion Therapy instills in young people that an aspect of their identity is a disorder and in need of repair. Protecting youth from this therapy is a human rights matter. All people have a right to be treated with dignity and respect.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Barbara J. Collins, Connecticut Bar Association: This bill protects against the administration of various therapies and treatments employed to change a youth's sexual orientation or gender identity. Conversion therapy has long been discredited as ineffective because sexual orientation is immutable and assumes that there is something wrong with being non-heterosexual. The side effects of conversion therapy include depression anxiety and various forms of self-destructive behavior.
Daniela Giordano, National Alliance on Mental Illness: Conversion therapy is ineffective, discredited and most importantly damaging. Trying to convert youth causes extreme emotional
distress, depression, suicidal ideation and have lifelong consequences. It is important that well-meaning parents receive good guidance from health professionals.
Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual violence: Conversion Therapy has been clinically determined to be both ineffective and harmful. Continuing to permit youth conversion therapy may play a role in the victimization in the LGBTQ+ community. Conversion therapy perpetuates a culture blame and shame. LGBTQ+ youth need compassion and support not that therapy that blames them and makes them feel inadequate
Connecticut Counseling Association: This legislation protects the rights of youth who LBGTQI or otherwise non gender conforming. The mainstream mental health community agrees that conversion therapy is based on pseudoscience and thus ineffective. Conversion therapy is judgemental, shaming and rejection practice that inflicts great harm on gay youth.
Anthony Crisci, Triangle Community Center: Conversion therapy is abusive and damaging with the potential for long term negative mental health effects especially when practiced on youth.
Connecticut Association of School Psychologists: Conversion therapy creates a perception that there is something wrong with the individual. Being transgender or gender diverse is not a disorder and efforts to change that are ineffective, harmful and discriminatory. The association welcomes further conversation with the committee regarding non-discriminatory and effective therapeutic interventions for LBGTQ youth. LBGTQ youth biggest needs are support coping with life and the development of resiliency strategies.
Patrick Comerford, Planned Parenthood: Conversion is often a last desperate effort to manipulate a child into self-rejection before a family rejects them. Minors experiencing this rejection face serious health risk. They are more likely to have attempted suicide, depression, abuse drugs, and more likely to engage in unprotected sex.
Connecticut Psychiatric Society: Conversion therapy has no scientific basis whatsoever. Conversion therapy stigmatizes gay youth causing them emotional harm because they told they are not normally land must be fixed.
Margaret Watt, Southwest Regional Mental Health Board: Conversion therapy harms rather than helps youth who are already struggling with societal and family stigma about their identity. Attempting to convert someone's identity further heightens the stigma and trauma increasing the risk of long lasting damage to these individuals.
Kirk Lowry, Connecticut Legal Rights Project Inc: Supports legislation prohibiting the harmful act of conversion therapy as it is ineffective and harmful to patients.
Connecticut State Medical Society: supports this legislation that would end the use of conversion therapy In the state of Connecticut. No evidence exists that Conversion therapy works.
Connecticut Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: variations in the sexual identity and gender identity/expression are not disorders and therefore do not require treatment to change them. Studies have long shown the damaging effects of conversion therapy on youth.
Kevin Barry, CT Women's Education and Legal Fund: Supports this legislation as it will protect young people from those within the state that engage in conversion therapy, a practice that has been discredited by the medical community.
The following individuals support HB 6695 as conversion therapy is an ethically and scientifically unsound practice. There is no empirical evidence that conversion therapy works but there is extensive documentation on the negative side effects of conversion therapy. This type of therapy contributes to stigmas and harms gender and sexual minorities:
Dr. Richard Stillson
Nancy Moore Hulnick
Rev. Josh Pawelek
Janet F. Peck
Dr. Mara Gottlieb
Dr. Ellen Preen
Allyson D. Platt
Jamie L. Lawler
Lawrence S. Grossman
Susan D. Boulware
Mary R. Heitman
Sara A. Misgen
Anthony R.J. Moran
A Cocnered Citizen
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
David A. Robinson: HB 6695 does not “protect” youth. It prevents youth from learning the truth. Therapy to help a person who is attracted to the same sex become attracted to the opposite sex, which HB 6695 calls “conversion therapy,” does not imply that homosexuality is a mental illness.
Pastor Marco Caiani: Opposes the legislation because as a pastor this law violates his conscience and religion. It is his right as a Pastor to counsel in a biblical manner. Preventing him from providing this counsel is a violation of his first amendment rights.
William Brown: This bill is deeply flawed as it vaguely worded and does not define explicitly what conversion therapy is. Therefore the legislature should reject HB 6695 as they have other misguided bills.
Reported by: Walter L. Morton IV