PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Governor Gina M. Raimondo, joined by Youth Pride, Inc. and General Assembly leaders, today held a ceremonial bill signing of legislation banning conversion therapy for minors. Rhode Island is now the tenth state to take action to protect minors from the horrific ramifications of conversion therapy.
"LGBTQ youth should know that there is a place for them in Rhode Island," Governor Raimondo said. "Conversion therapy is archaic, harmful, and should never be inflicted upon children. Countless studies have demonstrated that the psychological effects of conversion therapy are lasting and often devastating. As allies, we must continuously rededicate ourselves to the cause of equality and ensure that our policies match our values. I'm proud to sign legislation banning this horrific practice for minors."
Conversion therapy encompasses a range of practices, many of which have been proven to be psychologically harmful, that aim to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identification. It is rooted in pseudo-science and has been linked to higher rates of depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and even suicide. Conversion therapy is widely condemned by the medical and mental health community and has been denounced by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association.
"The barbaric practice of torturing our children with conversion therapy needs to end before any more harm comes to our LGBTQ youth. Study after study has shown that not only does this cruel practice simply not work, but, it also creates lasting harm in the form of a multitude of intense psychological and societal problems. If this practice can be so damaging to adults, it has no place being forced upon our children," said Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence).
"Conversion therapy is worse than ineffective; it can be extremely harmful, especially in children. Sexual orientation, as well as gender identity, is widely recognized by science and medicine as simply innate to a person. It is no more a disease or a condition that needs to be changed than is race or eye color. Conversion therapy is not a legitimate, scientific, medically recognized therapy, and no one should represent it as such. It should not be offered at all, and particularly not by anyone who is a licensed health care provider, to children. Any provider who purports to offer such a bogus and harmful service to children should be subject to license suspension or revocation, for the protection of the public," said Rep. Edith H. Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence).
"In a time of great uncertainly and a backlash on LGBTQ rights with our current Trump Administration, it's essential that states take the initiative to protect all of our citizens--Rhode Island did just that with the passage of this bill for our LGBTQ youth," said Youth Pride, Inc. Board Chair Lisa Carcieri.
The ceremony at the State Room followed the passage of 5277 SUB A, sponsored by Representative Ajello in the House. Senator Nesselbush sponsored the Senate version of the legislation.