Maryland outlaws therapy for minors who want to overcome same-sex attraction
ANNAPOLIS, Maryland, May 16, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Republican governor of Maryland signed into law a ban on licensed therapists or counselors providing minors with therapy to resolve gender confusion or unwanted homosexual attraction.
Larry Hogan signed the so-called Youth Mental Health Protection Act into law on Tuesday. The state Senate passed the bill 34-12 in March, and the state House 95-27 in April.
“The governor was pleased to sign this bill, and believes it’s the right thing to do,” Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chasse told Metro Weekly.
Starting in October, it will be illegal to perform on a minor “any effort to change the behavioral expression of an individual’s sexual orientation, change gender expression, or eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender.” Violators will be deemed to have “engaged in unprofessional conduct” and risk a suspension or revocation of their health or child care licenses.
The ban applies to all minors regardless of whether they or their parents desire or consent to the treatment. It leaves Maryland minors struggling with such conditions and wanting to overcome them no other choice but to go to another state for treatment. By contrast, Maryland allows medical professionals to waive parental notification to perform a minor’s abortion in certain circumstances, and does not require parents to consent to an abortion.
Ban supporters note that groups such as the World Psychiatric Association condemnreparative therapy as junk science, and invoke physically harmful practices like electric shocks and induced vomiting as representative examples.
But bill opponents called such examples red herrings. Many former homosexuals have attested to the success of various therapies that helped them overcome unwanted same-sex attraction.
Republican Sen. Bryan Simonaire criticized the bill for being an overreach as well as dangerous.
“The definition is so expansive this bill could revoke someone’s license and livelihood by a simple conversation,” said Simonaire, who introduced an amendment to forbid abusive and coercive methods but permit simple counseling aimed at helping those wanting to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction. He warned that forbidding legitimate professionals from treating these issues could force young people to turn to unqualified practitioners of violent techniques.
“Not a single person testified of abusive situations in Maryland, whether physical or mental,” Simonaire pointed out last month. “I’m really wondering what the problem is if we can’t identify it.”
The lawmaker again became a focal point of the debate when his daughter Meagan, a Republican House Delegate and bisexual woman, cited her own life in support of the bill. She said her parents didn’t force her into conversion therapy and admitted they were trying to help her, but claimed the subject was still a source of depression.
The elder Simonaire responded that he and his wife had merely recommended Christian counseling to their daughter, and that he loved her despite disagreeing with her lifestyle. He also pointed out that the 27-year-old Meagan had only revealed her sexuality to her parents the year before, as an adult, making her story somewhat inapplicable to the bill at hand.
As for gender confusion, studies have found that between 80 percent and 90 percent of children experiencing gender dysphoria outgrow it on their own by late adolescence. It is unclear whether Maryland’s ban, which expressly permits providing “acceptance, support, and understanding” of homosexuality or transgenderism, would apply to merely advising minors that their unwanted feelings are likely to be temporary.
Additionally, experts such as the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons’ Dr. Jane Orient object that these bans take away patients’ “right to choose their therapeutic goals” as recognized in the Hippocratic Oath. Others warn that reinforcing a child’s gender confusion rather than either treating it or letting it naturally subside is dangerous to their mental and emotional stability.
Forty percent of transgender Americans have attempted suicide, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). A report last year from the University of Cambridge found that 96 percent of transgendered Scottish students attempted self-harm and 40 percent attempted suicide.
Ten other states — Connecticut, California, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington — as well as the District of Columbia already ban reparative therapy. New Hampshire and Hawaii are likely to follow.