The Maryland Senate passed a bill [SB 1028 text] on Wednesday that would prohibit licensed mental health professionals from offering conversion therapy to minors. The bill passed 34-12 [roll call, pdf] , with 1 senator not voting.
Conversion therapy, as defined in the bill, “means a practice or treatment by a mental health or child care practitioner that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.” It also “includes 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.”
The bill references several reasons for its ban on conversion therapy for minors, including the significant mental health risks that come with it. The bill notes the findings of the American Psychologic Association [advocacy website] that attempts to change sexual orientation through conversion therapy can cause “critical health risks,” including depression, suicidal intentions, and increased self-hatred. The bill also notes that “[c]ontemporary science recognizes that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) is part of the natural spectrum of human identity and is not a disease, a disorder, or an illness.”
Under the bill, if a mental health or child care practitioner is found to have engaged in conversion therapy with a minor, they will be found to have engaged in unprofessional conduct, and may then be subject to discipline by their licensing or certifying board.
The bill is now moving to the House of Delegates [official website], where it is unclear how it will be received.