A new bill will safeguard the sexuality of LGBTQ youth in Philadelphia by banning “conversion therapy” for those under the age of 18. As reported by the Daily Philadelphian, the Philadelphia City Council’s Committee on Public Health and Human Services passed the bill recently. Once it goes into effect, mental health providers (licensed or otherwise) will be barred from attempting to change the gender identity or sexual orientation of anyone under the age of 18. 1st District Councilman Mark Squilla introduced the bill last December. It passed unanimously.
Conversion therapy is a controversial and scientifically-dubious practice that attempts to change the sexuality or romantic inclination of LGBTQ people. It can also be utilized to try and “correct” transgender individuals by forcing them to embrace their birth gender. It is often used by members of the religious right and is informally known as “praying the gay away” or similarly offensive terms. Its use became an issue of public conversation during the presidential race when it came out that Vice President Pence is, or used to be, a proponent of the practice. Across the nation, LGBTQ advocates have called for an end to the practice. President Obama spoke out against conversion therapy and its dangers before leaving office.
With the passing of the bill into law, Philadelphia becomes the 18th city in the United States to ban conversion therapy, as well as the second in Pennsylvania, as Pittsburgh passed a similar law last year. The bill defines conversion therapy as “any practice by a Mental Health Provider that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attraction or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”
As per the Daily Philadelphian: “On a state level, Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims has been leading legislation against conversion therapy for minors in the House and Senate. So far, nine states have outlawed the practice, including New York and neighboring New Jersey.”