Pennsylvania is now the latest state to ban conversion therapy for minors and vulnerable adults.
On Tuesday, Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order directing the state’s agencies “to discourage conversion therapy – the practice of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity – in the commonwealth.” The order stipulates that state agencies should instead promote evidence-based approaches to providing support for LGBTQ+ individuals, and ensure that state resources are not directed for providing, endorsing, or reimbursing for conversion therapy.
Conversion therapy is a controversial practice that has been largely rejected by the scientific community. In a statement made on Tuesday, Gov. Wolf called the practice “junk science that actively harms the people it supposedly seeks to treat,” adding, “This discriminatory practice is widely rejected by medical and scientific professionals and has been proven to lead to worse mental health outcomes for LGBTQIA+ youth subjected to it.”
He continued, “This is about keeping our children safe from bullying and extreme practices that harm them.”
To support the executive order, the Governor’s office cited research by the Trevor Project and the UCLA Williams Institute which found that LGBTQ+ youth are adversely affected by anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, bullying, and conversion therapy practices.
“Conversion therapy is causing horrific consequences for the mental health and well-being of a generation of young LGBTQIA+ individuals,” Gov. Wolf said. “But there is something very simple that we can all do to help. We can stand up and tell LGBTQIA+ youth that we hear them and we accept them exactly as they are.”
Pennsylvania is one of 26 U.S. states that have either banned or partially banned conversion therapy for minors, according to the Movement Advanced Project. D.C. and Puerto Rico have also either banned or partially banned conversion therapy practices.