On Wednesday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill banning youth “conversion therapy,” according to HuffPost. The new law stops licensed health care practitioners from performing the therapy on individuals under the age of 18.
Conversion therapy is the practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Many members of the LGBTQ community find the method to be grossly abusive, and many who have had forms of the therapy say it is harmful and lacks scientific backing.
In a statement, state Sen. Marko Liias upheld the idea of inclusion and acceptance. “Banning conversion therapy sends a loud and unequivocal message to LGBTQ youth: there is nothing wrong with you,” the openly gay lawmaker who sponsored the bill said.
“As a community, we love and support every person and we celebrate the diversity that makes us stronger. I am proud that Washington is standing up for our queer youth and I look forward to the day that these monstrous practices are illegal in every state,” Liias added.
In earlier years, conversion therapy consisted of such techniques as castration and electroconvulsive shock therapy; today, the treatments are less physically damaging and include mainly cognitive and psychoanalytic methods. But the methods are still regarded as harmful to minors because there is little to no scientific evidence that someone’s sexual or gender identity can be altered. Many studies also show increased rates of suicide among LGBTQ youth who are forced to undergo conversion therapy by their parents or guardians.
According to The Human Rights Campaign, Washington joins the ranks of 10 states and Washington, D.C. to protect minors from conversion therapy.