Though largely discredited by medical and mental-health associations, conversion therapy, also referred to as “reparative therapy” and “ex-gay therapy,” seeks to treat and resolve a person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity as though it is something curable. In 2012, California was the first state to ban such therapy on youth. Since 2012, ten other states have followed suit prohibiting the use of conversion therapy on children. In Maryland, the new law is referred to as the Youth Mental Health Protection Act. Practitioners who attempt to engage in conversion therapy will be subject to disciplinary proceedings.

This is not the first time Maryland attempted to ban such practices. In 2014, Baltimore County Delegate John Cardin sponsored a similar bill which would prohibit mental health professionals from engaging in conversion therapy. Unfortunately, the bill was later withdrawn by Del. Cardin. The Youth Mental Health Protection Act does take Del. Cardin’s initial bill a step farther and includes a prohibition for child care practitioners in addition to mental health providers.

The American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all spoken against conversion therapy. Specifically, in 2008, the APA published a booklet, “Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators, and School Personnel,” discussing the traumatic effects conversion therapy has on youth. Specifically, that conversion therapy implies that same-sex attraction and orientation is some sort of mental illness or disorder which needs to be cured. The reality is that no main stream health and/or mental health professional organization believe that same-sex attraction is indicative of being mentally unhealthy.

Though the new law is a big win for Maryland and the LGBTQ population, conversion therapy still exists. Practitioners may not be legally able to provide such treatment but religious organizations and underground practices still can and do. According to research conducted by the Trevor Project, a pro-LGBTQ advocacy group, young people rejected by their families are eight times more likely to commit suicide. More needs to be done. To learn more about the movement to ban conversion therapy, visit the Trevor Project at Thetrevorproject.org. It is working extensively on banning conversion therapy across the US.

Author Profile

Valerie E. Anias, Esquire
Valerie E. Anias, Esquire
Valerie E. Anias is a founding member of ERA Law Group, LLC. She leads the family law, personal injury, and mediation sections of the firm’s practice in Annapolis, Maryland. She is passionate about assisting underrepresented individuals and advocates for her clients irrespective of their gender, race, sexual orientation, family status, etc. Valerie is a member of the Bar Associations of Maryland, Prince George’s County, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, and Baltimore City. She is published in the Maryland State Bar Journal and is a writer for Baltimore OUTloud. In her spare time, Val volunteers her time to Maryland Volunteer Lawyer Services and FreeState Justice. Valerie received her J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law after receiving her B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Law from Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York. Valerie is licensed to practice in Maryland and the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.