MILWAUKEE — Today, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer ( LGBTQ ) civil rights organization and Fair Wisconsin, the statewide group working to advance equality for LGBTQ Wisconsinites, praised the Milwaukee Common Council for passing a measure protecting LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called "conversion therapy." The ordinance prohibits licensed mental health professionals from engaging in conversion therapy with minors and carries a civil penalty for each violation. Milwaukee is the first city in Wisconsin to pass such a measure.
"No child should be subjected to the abusive practice of so-called conversion therapy, which has been rejected by every major medical and mental health organization," said HRC Wisconsin State Manager Wendy Strout. "We thank the Milwaukee Common Council and the team at the Milwaukee LGBT Center for putting the well-being and safety of our children first, and hope their leadership can be an example to cities across the state."
Said Michael Vinson, Chairman Emeritus of Fair Wisconsin, "We applaud the City of Milwaukee for taking this important and bold step in protecting the LGBTQ community from these destructive, dangerous practices. We remain hopeful that communities across the state will follow Milwaukee's lead in helping to ensure a fair, safe and inclusive Wisconsin for all."
"Conversion therapy," sometimes referred to as "sexual orientation change efforts" or "reparative therapy," encompasses a range of dangerous practices that seek to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. These practices are based on the false premise that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that needs to be "cured" a theory that has been rejected for decades by every major medical and mental health organization.
There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior. The dangerous practice is condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Medical Association.
In addition to Milwaukee, a growing number of municipalities across the country, including cities in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, have enacted similar crucial protections. Connecticut, California, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice. Earlier this month, the Washington state legislature also passed a similar bill which is currently awaiting the Governor's signature.
According to a recent report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, an estimated 20,000 LGBTQ minors in jurisdictions without protections will be subjected to conversion therapy by a licensed healthcare professional if officials fail to act.
HRC recently launched HRC Rising, the largest grassroots expansion in its history that will include significant investments in Wisconsin.