Monday, July 22, 2024

Pennsylvania governor acts to ban conversion therapy

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has signed an executive order to protect the state’s LGBTQ youth from harmful conversion therapy.

The order protects minors from harm by licensed professionals; bars the use of state resources and discourages private insurance coverage for conversion therapy, ensures training for child welfare staff and contracted providers to support LGBTQ youth and their families, improves support for state employees seeking gender-affirming care, and sets the stage for state licensing boards to discipline health professionals who violate the ethical and professional standards associated with their license.


Wolf’s regulatory action explicitly blocks the misuse of the Medical Assistance Program and Children’s Health Insurance Program funds to inflict conversion therapy upon youths.

The order cites research showing that youth who are subjected to conversion therapy are at a dramatically increased risk of suicide, depression, and other serious harms. Professional licensing boards across the country have affirmed that conversion therapy is neither ethical nor safe and should not be used on minors under any circumstances.

Born Perfect, the survivor-led national campaign to end conversion therapy, supported the statewide effort to enact the executive order.

“Governor Wolf is taking a critical step to protect LGBTQ minors across the state of Pennsylvania. LGBTQ kids and their families are targeted by so-called therapists causing lifelong harm,” said Mathew Shurka, a conversion therapy survivor and Born Perfect Co-Founder.

“This executive order demonstrates that our political offices have the power to protect our youth and it is their responsibility to do so. We are sincerely grateful to Governor Wolf,” said Shurka. “This is a huge step forward for the health and safety of LGBTQ young people in Pennsylvania. We hope that even more governors will take note and enact similar measures to ensure that no state funds are being misused to pay for this deadly practice.”

“We applaud Governor Wolf for his leadership in prioritizing the health and safety of Pennsylvanians,” said Shannon Minter, Legal Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “More than 20 states have taken action to protect minors from the harm caused by sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts. Conversion therapy has been condemned by every leading medical and mental health professional organization in the country.

“This order ensures that taxpayer dollars cannot be used to pressure LGBTQ youth to change who they are. Many of these youth have already faced family rejection for being LGBTQ; they deserve safety and respect. In particular, no young person in state care should be sent to a therapist who subjects them to further trauma and abuse.”

About Born Perfect and the NCLR

Born Perfect is a survivor-led program created by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) in 2014 to end conversion therapy by passing laws across the country that protect LGBTQ children and young people, fighting in courtrooms to ensure their safety, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by these dangerous practices.

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