Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Health Professions
Board of Counseling
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3/20/19  4:09 pm
Commenter: Christine Walther-Thomas

Ban Conversion Therapy--Bad Science and Disastrous Outcomes for All

I am opposed to Conversion Therapy on many levels--as a teacher educator, education policy researcher, social justice advocate, friend, colleagues, and most of all, as the proud mother of a wonderful gay man.

For more than 30 years, medical and mental health communities have rejected the practice of conversion therapy as quackery. Science shows very clearly it is impossible to the sexual orientation with which someone is born. Efforts to change an individual’s gender identity have disastrous effects for LBGTQ+ individuals and for their families. American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder more than 40 years ago and in 1998 denounced conversion therapy because it is ineffective and causes "...substantial psychological pain by reinforcing damaging internalized attitudes.”  Similarly, the American Psychological Association rejected these practices many years ago and repeatedly affirmed its stance. Research clearly shows these misguided practices can produce serious physical and mental health to LGBTQ+ children, adolescents, and adults.  Many national and international organizations have also rejected these practices because they are not scientifically, socially-, or ethically sound.  Some of these organizations include the World Health Organization,  American Medical Association,  American Academy of Pediatrics,  American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the American Counseling AssociationIn addition, more than 15 U. S. states, the District of Columbia, and 50+ major cities have banned conversion therapy.

Good public policy is based on evidence, core principles and values, and respect for all. Unfortunately, well-respected research often takes years to become the everyday evidence needed to improve the lives of people. When it does, effective policies and practices replace ineffective ones; knowledge and skills unfounded myths, fears, and superstitions and social attitudes change.. The Commonwealth has long been recognized as a national and international leader championing knowledge, justice, freedom, and respect for all.  As such, Virginia must help lead the way of banning conversion therapy and ensuring the protection of our citizens and especially our most vulnerable children and youth.

CommentID: 70532