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7/20/2017 Sen. Nesselbush and Rep. Ajello bill banning youth conversion therapy signed into law
STATE HOUSE – Legislation (2017-S 0267A / 2017-H 5277A) introduced by Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence) and Rep. Edith H. Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence) that would prohibit licensed health care professionals from practicing conversion therapy on patients under the age of 18 years old has been signed into law by the governor. 

Conversion therapy seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity and includes practices that intend to eliminate or reduce a person’s sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.

“The barbaric practice of torturing our children with conversion therapy needs to end before any more harm comes to our LGBTQ youth.  Study after study has shown that not only does this cruel practice simply not work, but, it also creates lasting harm in the form of a multitude of intense psychological and societal problems.  If this practice can be so damaging to adults, it has no place being forced upon our children and I will not rest until this insidious practice is banned in Rhode Island,” said Senator Nesselbush.

“Conversion therapy is worse than ineffective; it can be extremely harmful, especially in children. Sexual orientation, as well as gender identity, is widely recognized by science and medicine as simply innate to a person. It is no more a disease or a condition that needs to be changed than is race or eye color. Conversion therapy is not a legitimate, scientific, medically recognized therapy, and no one should represent it as such. It should not be offered at all, and particularly not by anyone who is a licensed health care provider, to children. Any provider who purports to offer such a bogus and harmful service to children should be subject to license suspension or revocation, for the protection of the public,” said Representative Ajello.

The American Psychological Association has stated that conversion therapy can lead to confusion, depression, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, shame, social withdrawal, suicidality, substance abuse, stress, disappointment, self-blame, decreased self-esteem and authenticity to others, increased self-hatred, hostility and blame toward parents, feelings of anger and betrayal, loss of friends and potential romantic partners, problems in sexual and emotional intimacy, sexual dysfunction, high-risk sexual behaviors, a feeling of being dehumanized and untrue to self, a loss of faith, and a sense of having wasted time and resources.

Currently, conversion therapy for minors is banned in New Jersey, California, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Vermont, and New Mexico.  In 2017, Rhode Island is joined by several other states that have introduced banning the practice for minors with Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia all having bills introduced in their state legislatures.

For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903