Skip to main content

Maryland Joins 10 Other States in Banning Gay Conversion Therapy for Minors

Maryland enacted a law on Tuesday banning gay conversion therapy for minors, the Associated Press reports.

The state joins 10 others and the District of Columbia, which already have such laws. Similar legislation is also in the works in two other states, Hawaii and New Hampshire.

"Treatments" aimed at altering queer people's sexual orientations have long been discredited. In its latest guidelines for how psychologists should treat people who wish to change their orientation, the American Psychological Association found little evidence that conversion therapy works in adults, and none to suggest it works in children.

In fact, it could even be harmful to minors. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender teens are more likely to have depression, substance use disorders, and suicidal thoughts than their straight peers, and it's believed that these problems often stem from negative social attitudes about LGBT people, as Pacific Standard previously reported.

Coercive conversion therapies are one manifestation of those negative attitudes. They often "do not present accurate scientific information regarding same-sex sexual orientations to youths and families, are excessively fear-based, and have the potential to increase sexual stigma," according to the APA. As a result, the APA writes, it's a violation of professional ethics for psychologists to participate in these programs for minors. Increasingly, it's a violation of the law too.