Washington, DC – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) today introduced the Stop Harming Our Kids (SHOK) resolution, cosponsored by Congressmen Ted Deutch (D-FL) and David Cicilline (D-RI), to protect young people from the psychological abuse of so-called LGBT conversion practices. The SHOK resolution is the first federal action to end these harmful and discredited sexual orientation change efforts.
At a press conference held earlier today, Speier announced the introduction of the SHOK resolution as well as her work to investigate whether federal funds have been spent on these unethical practices that have been rejected as scientifically invalid by the American Psychiatric Association and other mental health groups for nearly 40 years.
“Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered is not a disease to be cured or a mental illness that requires treatment. Any effort to change sexual orientation is not medicine, it’s quackery, and we should not be supporting it with taxpayer dollars,” said Congresswoman Speier.
“California led the nation on this issue when Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1172, a law that prohibits state licensed mental health professionals from engaging minors in these harmful and abusive therapies. Governor Brown did the right thing and I am urging all states to consider similar laws,” said Speier.
The SHOK resolution encourages each state to take steps to protect minors from efforts that promote or promise to change sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, based on the premise that homosexuality is a mental illness or developmental disorder that can or should be cured.
In addition to introducing the SHOK resolution, Congresswoman Speier is investigating whether or not federal taxpayer funds have been spent on the practice of conversion therapy with minors through Medicaid or TRICARE reimbursements.
“In my cursory investigation, I have found two additional instances of so-called mental health professionals that advertise these services and appear to be eligible for federal dollars. This morning, I sent letters of inquiry to Medicaid and TRICARE to determine if these instances reflect systemic weaknesses that allow federal taxpayer dollars to go to harmful, illegitimate medical services,” said Speier.
Congresswoman Speier was joined at the press conference by survivors Sheldon Bruck and Jerry Spencer, Licensed Clinical Social Worker Laura Booker, Christine Sun from the Southern Poverty Law Center, Ashland Johnson from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Brian Moulton from the Human Rights Campaign.
Statements of support from these groups and other LGBT advocates can be found below.
Center for Lesbian Rights
“We applaud Congresswoman Speier for showing true leadership by shining a light on this important issue. We join her in urging states to protect young people and their families from this dangerous quackery, which has been condemned by every leading mainstream mental health organization in the country.
“NCLR is committed to working with Congresswoman Speier and state legislators to ensure that no young person is subjected to these dangerous practices and that no parent is deceived by therapists who falsely claim to be able to change a child’s core identity. Every child deserves acceptance and support, and families deserve honest, accurate information about how to protect their children.”
- Kate Kendell, Esq., Executive Director
and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
"PFLAG National—the nation’s oldest and largest organization for parents, families,friends, and allies of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people—applauds Rep. Jackie Speier’s introduction today of a resolution that would express at the federal level what we have seen firsthand: that reparative therapy is harmful to our kids, and must be banned as a practice.
The doctrine espoused by some therapists—that gay people can and should change their sexual orientation—has been condemned by every mainstream professional medical and mental health association, including The American Medical Association, The American Psychiatric Association, The American Psychological Association, The American Counseling Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics, and The National Association of Social Workers. This resolution would simply support what has already been proven: that what LGBT youth need is the love, support, and acceptance of their parents, not to be told to change who they are.”
The Trevor Project
“The Trevor Project commends Congresswoman Speier for drawing attention to the harms caused by this practice and encourages states to promote family acceptance and reduction of stigma through public education in order to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender young people."
- Abbe Land, Executive Director
Truth Wins Out
“One of society’s most important functions is to protect children from the exploitation and abuse of predators. This is why Truth Wins Out strongly supports Rep. Jackie Speier’s “Stop Harming Our Kids” (SHOK) resolution. It is critical that unethical charlatans be held accountable for malice in the guise of medicine that often exacts psychological wreckage on young clients and their families.”
- Wayne Besen, Founder & Executive Director