OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined a multistate coalition in defending a Colorado law that prohibits gay and transgender conversion therapy on children and youth. Conversion therapy is a cruel, harmful, and ineffective form of treatment that aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Colorado’s Minor Conversion Therapy Law, which bans licensed health professionals from practicing conversion therapy on minors, is being challenged in a lawsuit at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Chiles v. Salazar. Today’s amicus brief filed by the 20 states supports Colorado’s ban on conversion therapy because it is not a safe or effective treatment for any condition, puts minors at risk of serious harms, including increased risks of suicide and depression, and falls below the standard of care for mental health practitioners.
“Not only is conversion therapy a serious threat to the lives and health of LGBTQ people, it’s also completely ineffective,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Being gay or transgender is not a ‘disorder’ that can or needs to be ‘cured’. I stand with my fellow attorneys general today in full support of Colorado and other states’ conversion therapy bans, which are crucial to protecting our kids and our most vulnerable residents. My office will continue fighting to ensure no child or young person is ever again put through the indignity and emotional trauma of such dangerous, ignorant interventions.”
Conversion therapy, also referred to as sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts or reparative therapy, encompasses a range of interventions that attempt to “cure” a person’s sexuality or gender identity. The overwhelming medical consensus is that such interventions are ineffective and increase the risk of suicide and lifelong mental illness. In 2012, California became the first state to enact legislation – SB 1172 – banning conversion therapy on anyone under 18 years of age. In hearings on the bill, legislators heard “horror stories” of conversion therapy, including from a woman who testified that she underwent electric shocks and was given drugs to induce vomiting at age 14 at a conversion therapy camp.
In their amicus brief today, the 20 attorney generals argued that states have a constitutional right to enact and enforce laws such as Colorado’s Minor Conversion Therapy Law to protect the health, safety, and well-being of children and youth by establishing standards of care and regulating health professionals.
The amicus brief highlighted scientific studies that show that conversion interventions performed on LGBTQ minors are extremely harmful to their health and lives. One study found such interventions were associated with depression, suicidal thoughts, less educational achievement, and lower weekly income. That same study found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual minors who had been subjected to external conversion efforts had attempted suicide at a rate nearly three times that of those who hadn’t. Another study found that more than 60% of transgender children subjected to gender identity change efforts before age 10 attempted suicide.
In today’s amicus brief, Attorney General Bonta was joined by the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
A copy of the amicus brief can be found here.
HOW TO GET HELP
If you identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and are thinking about suicide or struggling with your emotional health, we encourage you to reach out to one or more of the following resources and support services:
Trevor Project Lifeline: (800) 788-7386
The Trevor Lifeline provides support to LGBTQ youths and allies in crisis or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk.
Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
Trans Lifeline provides peer support for the transgender community, and is run by and for trans people.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for LGBTQ+ Community: (800) 273-8255
This page offers information and resources for LGBTQ+ individuals who are struggling with suicidal feelings or mental health crises.
LGBT National Help Center
A national resource that provides LGBTQ+ community with free & confidential support and referral resources via phone, text, and chat.
This non-profit organization provides free and unlimited mental health services for LGBTQ-identified youths ages 25 and younger.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) LGBTQI Page
This page highlights the unique mental health needs of the LGBTQ+ community and includes hotlines and resources to help address those needs.