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Ending Conversion Therapy
The Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) applauds Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer for signing an executive directive to stop the use of state or federal funds for conversion therapy on minors. Conversion therapy (sometimes called “reparative” therapy) is a practice that attempts to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Survey research shows that 13% of LGBTQ+ youth have been subjected to this practice, and youth who have received conversion therapy are twice as likely as their peers to attempt suicide.
ABCT has consistently taken a stand against conversion therapy, on both scientific and moral grounds, beginning in the 1970s. The President of AABT (as it was known then) at that time, Dr. Gerald Davison, argued that this treatment “strengthens societal prejudices against homosexuality and contributes to the self-hate and embarrassment that are determinants of the ‘voluntary’ desire by some homosexuals to become heterosexual” (Davison, 1977, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, p. 157).
In 2007, an American Psychological Association task force noted that the “results of scientifically valid research indicate that it is unlikely that individuals will be able to reduce same-sex attractions or increase other-sex sexual attractions through [conversion therapy].” In contrast, a great deal of evidence points to the physical and psychological damage caused by the societal prejudice which conversion therapy reinforces.
Michigan joins several other states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, in establishing laws that protect LGBTQ+ youth from this harmful practice. Our recommendation is that other states should follow suit and that conversion therapy should be abolished.