10,000 LGBT teens protected from conversion therapy in 18 states with bans

An estimated 10,000 LGBT youth ages 13-17 have been protected from receiving conversion therapy by licensed health care professionals in the 18 states that have banned the practice, according to an updated study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

Revised estimates show that approximately 16,000 LGBT teens in the 32 states without bans will undergo the practice by a licensed health care provider. An estimated 57,000 LGBT youth nationwide will receive the treatment from a religious or spiritual advisor.

Conversion therapy is treatment intended to change the sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression of LGBT people. It is grounded in the belief that being LGBT is abnormal.

“This study indicates that these bans have a positive impact on the lives of LGBT youth,” said Christy Mallory, the state and local policy director at the Williams Institute and lead author of the study. “With growing support for these laws, we expect more states to consider similar bans in the future.”

National and state-level public opinion polls have found majority support for ending the use of conversion therapy on youth. For example, a recent Ipsos/Reuters survey, conducted in partnership with the Williams Institute, found that 56% of US adults believe conversion therapy should be illegal.

The previous report, released in January 2018, provided the first estimates of youth in the US at risk of undergoing conversion therapy before they reach adulthood. At that time, researchers estimated 20,000 youth at risk of conversion therapy by a licensed health care provider in the 41 states without bans and 6,000 LGBT youth protected by nine state laws banning the practice. The report also found that approximately 698,000 LGBT adults nationwide have received conversion therapy at some point in their lives, including about 350,000 who received it as adolescents.

“Research has found that youth who undergo conversion therapy are more likely to attempt suicide,” said study author Kerith J. Conron, Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and research director at the Williams Institute. “It’s vital that we educate families on the harms of this practice.”

Read the report

June 18, 2019

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