Today, HRC, along with FreeState Justice, a legal advocacy organization that seeks to improve the lives of LGBTQ Marylanders, and WISE claimed victory as Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed into law SB 1028 - critical legislation protecting LGBTQ youth from the unsafe and debunked practice of so-called "conversion therapy".
Young people who are rejected by their families over their sexual orientation or gender identity are more than eight times more likely to attempt suicide than youth from accepting families, according to the Trevor Project, a pro-LGBTQ advocacy group that is working to ban conversion therapy across the U.S.
It also estimates 20,000 LGBTQ youth now between the ages of 13 and 17 will receive conversion therapy from a licensed health care professional before they reach 18, and approximately 57,000 will be subjected to the controversial practice from a religious or spiritual adviser. Simonaire said when she finally told her parents, they sought conversion therapy providers for her.
"The governor was pleased to sign this bill, and believes it's the right thing to do", Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for Hogan, confirmed. Richard Madaleno, who sponsored the bill, reports CBS.
"No child should ever be subjected to the abusive practice of so-called 'conversion therapy, '" said Human Rights Council President Chad Griffin in a statement Tuesday, hailing the bill. "This risky and inhumane form of child abuse has no basis in science and is uniformly rejected by every major mental health and child welfare organization". Maryland's commitment to LGBTQ youth is another great stride toward making this type of treatment to sexual orientation or gender identity outlawed across the US -with much work still to be done.
In addition to Maryland, Connecticut, California, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia all have laws or regulations banning conversion therapy for minors.
A number of Republican lawmakers, including Yuba City Assemblyman James Gallagher, worry the move threatens to curtail free speech, especially given the practice of gay conversion therapy is already outlawed in the state.
FreeState Justice Executive Director Mark Procopio added: "In signing this legislation, Governor Hogan joined the General Assembly in choosing to not only protect LGBTQ youth from harm, but to send an affirmation to children across Maryland who may be struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity". "They are ideal as they are".
New Hampshire and Hawaii have both passed bills banning gay conversion therapy, but the measures have not yet been signed into law, according to NBC.