To Whom It May Concern,
As an openly transgender person resideing in the state of Virginia I am ashamed that conversion therapy is still a practice that Virginia allows licensed professionals to continue using. These harmful practices use rejection, shame, and psychological abuse to force people to try and change who they are. This is known to be extremely dangerous and can lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, and even suicide attempts.
The American Psychological Assoication does not even condone the practice of conversion therapy. (For the resolution of the APA on conversion therapy see https://www.apa.org/about/policy/sexual-orientation) the APA along with several other mental health organizations agree that conversion therapy does not work at best and at worst causes more mental health issues.
I know the biggest concern with all of this is religious freedom. The good news, religious beliefs and the ability to practice them are not in question here. This has to do with licensed counselors, who are licensed by the state, which is seperate from any religious beliefs, not being allowed to practice conversion therapy on vunerable youth. Keep the church and state seperate and regulate the state by regulating the licensed counselors to provide care your LGBTQ youth that has been proven to be best for mental health by eliminiating conversion therapy as an option.
Thank you for your consideration,