Legislation protecting LGBTQ children had been introduced by Democratic lawmakers in Virginia for several years now, but failed to get enough support to pass a vote. In 2018, state Senate Republicans ignored testimony from the director of the Virginia Department of Health Professions in support of a bill introduced by Democrat Scott Surovell and “flexed the power provided by their slim majority” to kill the legislation in committee, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported at the time.
But since Democrats’ takeover of the commonwealth’s government last year, the new legislature has passed major policies benefitting Virginia families, including expanding driver’s license access to undocumented residents, expanding in-state tuition to undocumented students at state universities, and now implementing a policy protecting LGBTQ kids. The legislation, introduced in the House of Delegates by Democrat Patrick Hope, passed the chamber 66 to 27, and in the Senate the legislation, again introduced by Surovell, passed 22 to 18.
By this time, the Virginia Board of Psychology had also condemned the harmful practice, saying that “the Board considers ‘conversion therapy’ or ‘sexual orientation change efforts’ ... to be services that have the potential to harm patients or clients, especially minors,” and that “practicing conversion therapy/sexual orientation change efforts with minors could result in a finding of misconduct and disciplinary action against the licensee or registrant.” Thankfully, lawmakers listened this time.
But with only 20 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico adopting such policies against conversion therapy against minors, there is still a long way to go, considering that the use of so-called ex-gay therapy against kids has been condemned by medical professionals, advocates, and survivors as pseudoscientific junk that in fact can lead to further “depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior,” the American Psychiatric Association says. “Many patients who have undergone reparative therapy relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction.”
LGBTQ activist Adam Trimmer told Virginia CBS affiliate WTVR shortly after the bill’s passage in the House that he hoped the legislation meant no child would have to relive his own experiences when he was 18. He said the sessions “skewed how I saw my family and wrecked our relationship. I didn’t let my mom hug me, told my dad he was the worst father in the world,” he said. “When I think about my experience, I get pretty angry. I had years of my life taken away from me, and I’m excited that doesn’t have to happen with youth anymore.” Eventually, Trimmer said, he needed years of legitimate therapy to deal with the trauma he experienced.
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