“Conversion therapy”, the controversial method employed to change or reverse an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation, has been banned in the states of Nevada and Connecticut for children and those under the age of eighteen.
This brings in total, the number of states banning this now widely discredited treatment to nine.
No more will it be possible in those states for minors, considered vulnerable to pressure from religious groups or perhaps their own families, to be encouraged to receive the treatment.
Last week, a bill was passed making the practice illegal. It will no longer be permissible for a licensed health care professional to deliver the treatment to a minor, with the aim of changing their sexual or gender orientation.
Connecticut and Nevada follow on the heels of New York when, back in February, Governor Andrew Cuomo effectively banned the practice by cutting off insurance funds to pay for the treatment.
The method, which has fallen into disrepute, is already prohibited in the states of New Jersey, Oregon, New Mexico, California, Vermont, and Illinois.
In addition to these states, there have been measures of a similar nature brought to the statute books in Cincinnati, Seattle and Miami Beach. The practice is also illegal in Washington State.
Conversion therapy is now widely seen as being potentially harmful to a young person, especially when they have not sought it for themselves.
Sometimes also known as “sexual reorientation” or “reparative therapy”, the therapy takes its source from the works of Freud. He believed that all sexuality was effectively fluid and everyone is to some degree bisexual. The idea is that a person can change between each end of the spectrum of sexuality and by using techniques similar to those used to control anxiety; may prevent themselves from being gay.
Shannon Minter is the legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights and has commented on the lack of resistance from any mainstream political source, to the ban.
In some states, however, the laws only place a ban on professional mental health workers from carrying out such a controversial therapy. It removes the public funding for this treatment. but in states such as Nevada, it was only passed on the agreement that it would not apply to religious ministers and counselors.
One potential issue with this approach is the fact that sometimes a health professional may also be a religious practitioner, who additionally offers counseling. In those instances, it is being left up to the individual to ensure they act in compliance with the law.
Similarly, when the law was invoked in New Mexico by Governor Susana Martinez, this April, it did not stop religious leaders from offering counsel to a young person in need of guidance.
She also expressed her concern that the bill should not come between a parent’s duty to do what they thought was the best for their child.
However, she tempered her unease with the belief that the practice had acquired such widespread condemnation from respected institutions such as the American Psychological Association and that the therapy strayed into a potential abuse of the young people it was aimed to help.