LANSING — Following today’s passage of a bill banning conversion therapy statewide by the Michigan House of Representatives, ten major healthcare organizations have joined the Human Rights Campaign and Equality Michigan in calling on Michigan legislators to send the bill to Gov. Whitmer’s desk without delay.
Human Rights Campaign Vice President of Legal Sarah Warbelow released the follow statement in response to both the letter and House passage:
“All children deserve to live authentically and free from fear of this dangerous and discredited practice with potentially life-threatening consequences. We thank the Michigan House of Representatives for passing this legislation and urge the state Senate to send the bill to Governor Whitmer’s desk without delay. This progress would not be possible without the support of the healthcare community, or the advocacy of state and local LGBTQ+ organizations and pro-equality legislators.”
Director of Advocacy & Civic Engagement at the Equality Michigan Action Network Emme Zanotti released the following statement in response to both the letter and House passage:
“We are thrilled that the Michigan House of Representatives and the Michigan State Senate continue to advance HBs 4616 and 4617, and SBs 348 and 349, respectively. The documented harms that so-called conversion therapy has on LGBTQ+ young people is devastating. It’s a discredited practice that is shown to increase suicide risk by more than two times, and it’s unfortunately still happening in our state. Of the 21 states whose legislatures have passed these bills to protect youth from the horrors of conversion therapy, every single one has done so in bipartisan fashion. That’s because youth suicide prevention is a human issue, not a political one.”
The Facts About “So-Called” Conversion Therapy
“Conversion therapy” refers to a range of dangerous and discredited practices that falsely claim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Every major medical and mental health organization in the United States has rejected the use of conversion therapy as dangerous. In addition, peer-reviewed research published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2020 found that youth subjected to conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to report having attempted suicide and more than 2.5 times as likely to report multiple suicide attempts in that past year.
More than one out of every eight young LGBTQ+ people living in Michigan reported being threatened with or subjected to conversion therapy, according to the Trevor Project, an organization devoted to preventing suicide in the LGBTQ+ community.
The bill that passed the Michigan House today prevents state-licensed mental health providers from engaging in conversion therapy with minors and would aim to increase trust with state-licensed mental health providers. The ban will curb harmful practices, protect families from predatory therapists, and help ensure the health and safety of young people across Michigan.
Along with its in-state partners, the Human Rights Campaign has been engaging state lawmakers and lobbyists, recruiting and training volunteers, and mobilizing constituents to support this critical legislation.
The full text of the letter delivered to the Michigan Legislature is embedded below.
Dear Michigan Legislature,
We, the co-signers of this letter, write with the utmost urgency to express our unified and unequivocal support for house bills 4616 and 4617, and senate bills 348 and 349, prohibiting mental health professionals from performing the harmful practice of so-called “conversion therapy” on minors under penalty of losing their licenses.
The signatories of this letter represent associations and organizations of medical and mental health professionals across the state of Michigan. We are united in our commitment to promote optimal physical, mental, and social health of children, adolescents, and young adults. Our support for this legislation is founded in scientific evidence and an adherence to our medical doctrine to “First, do no harm.”
“Conversion therapy” — also known as “reparative therapy” or “sexual orientation change efforts” — refers to dangerous and discredited practices that attempt to change a person’s LGBTQ+ identity. There is no evidence to support that a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity can be changed. Any and all forms of so-called “conversion therapy” are harmful. Peer-reviewed research published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2020 found that LGBTQ+ youth subjected to “conversion therapy” were more than twice as likely to report having attempted suicide and more than 2.5 times as likely to report multiple suicide attempts in the past year as LGBTQ+ youth who were not.
Despite this documented evidence on the serious harm “conversion therapy” causes, it’s still impacting young people in our state. According to data from The Trevor Project, 15% of Michigan’s youth report being threatened with or subjected to “conversion therapy”.
It is with this in mind, that we are calling on the Michigan Legislature to swiftly support and pass this legislation (HB-4616, HB-4617, SB-348, and SB-349) to prohibit mental health professionals from performing the harmful practice of so-called “conversion therapy” on minors under penalty of losing their licenses, ensuring we are protecting youth from this discriminatory and disproven practice.
Ferris State University Social Work Department
Michigan Academy of Physician Assistants
Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health
Michigan Association of School Psychologists
Michigan Council for Maternal and Child Health
Michigan Nurses Association
Michigan State Medical Society
National Association of Social Workers – Michigan Chapter
Northern Michigan University Department of Social Work