Jon Cardin Release, Gay Conversion Bill | Sexual Orientation Change Efforts | Positive Psychology

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MARCH 14, 2014 Contact: Joshua Greenfeld, Legislative Director Tel: (410) 841-3833 E-mail

: Carrie Evans, Executive Director Equality Maryland 443-514-4999


Annapolis, MD – Delegate Jon S. Cardin and Equality Maryland will hold a joint press conference on March 14, 2014 at 9:30AM in the House of Delegate Ways and Means Committee Room 131 to announce a regulatory approach to combat the problem of so-called “conversion” or “reparative” therapy. Sexual orientation and gender identity change therapy also referred to as “conversion” or “reparative” therapy, attempts to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a patient. Therapists who perform this type of work claim that homosexuality and gender identity disorders are mental illnesses that can be cured. However, the American Psychological Association has long recognized that sexuality and gender identity are not conscious choices that can be voluntarily changed. Additionally, all major medical and mental health associations, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association, have stated that reparative therapy is ineffective and can be extremely dangerous. Del. Cardin introduced legislation this session to ban this kind of therapy on minors. The bill is modeled on legislation passed in California and New Jersey, and several other states and Washington, D.C. are considering similar bans. Del. Cardin’s proposal would ban this therapy for children under the age of eighteen. The bill would have no effect on the right of religious institutions or faith leaders to advise their congregants on their beliefs on sexuality or gender identity and is explicitly limited to licensed mental health providers. While working on this legislation, Del. Cardin reached out to several organizations with expertise in regulatory protections for patients. The dialogue created among these groups affirmed widespread commitment to ensure this therapy is not practiced by licensed mental health practitioners The discussion identified an existing regulatory tool that can be used to protect minors.

“If we can do this without legislation, I am all about it,” said Cardin. “I am not intereste d in the glory. I’m interested in solving problems.” The solution, supported by Equality Maryland, the Maryland Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, Delegate Cardin, and the Trevor Project among others is a regulatory approach. The state health occupation boards have the ability to sanction licensed therapists who engage in “conversion” or “reparative” therapy. Minors or anyone advocating on their behalf can file a complaint with a board, triggering a vigorous investigation. If the investigation uncovers proof that a licensed health care professional violated the standard of care, then the board has an array of regulatory tools to keep this from happening again. Delegate Cardin and Equality Maryland are confident that the existing regulatory framework provides a precise tool to protect minors from this harmful therapy, and we will work together and with other advocates to ensure that the process for filing complaints against anyone who engages in these practices is transparent and widely disseminated. Delegate Cardin concluded, “It’s not something you can change with any therapy. Attempting to change sexual orientation or gender identity with therapy does a child far more harm than good.” Equality Maryland’s Executive Director, Carrie Evans, commented, “We are thankful for Del. Cardin bringing this issue forward. Every major medical and mental health organization has condemned this therapy and we will work to ensure LGBT youth and their parents have the information they need to file complaints.” Contact Information for Filing a Complaint with a Maryland Health Occupations Board Maryland Board of Examiners of Psychologists Maryland Board of Nursing Maryland Board of Physicians Maryland Board of Professional Counselors Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners

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