Conversion Therapy and LGBT Youth, Christy Mallory et al., The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law (2018)

Research and Journal Articles

Despite being harmful, ineffective, and banned among health care professionals in nine states, the District of Columbia, and 32 localities, conversion therapy—"treatment” intended to change the sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression (SOGIE) of LGBTQ people—remains in high use, according to The Williams Institute. The Institute estimates 698,000 LGBT adults have received conversion therapy, including about 350,000 who received the treatment as adolescents, and that another 20,000 LGBT youth aged 13-17 will receive conversion therapy from a licensed health care professional before they reach age 18.

Furthermore, professional health associations, including the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics, have issued public statements opposing conversion therapy, and several others—including the National Association of School Psychologists, American Psychoanalytic Association, American Counseling Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics—have endorsed the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, a federal bill that would prohibit the practice.

The American Psychological Association notes “parents, guardians, young people, and their families [should] avoid sexual orientation change efforts that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder and to seek psychotherapy, social support, and educational services that provide accurate information on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support, and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth.” This is significant for LGBTQ youth under the care and custody of the state, who rely on the state for their sexual health needs, which are directly affected by their SOGIE. There are also disturbing similarities between conversion therapy, as described by the American Psychological Association, and the content of sexual health literacy programs in states that prohibit portrayal of LGBTQ identity in a positive light.