Two Pa. state medical boards adopt policies opposing conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ minors

The Pennsylvania state flag
The Pennsylvania state flag. (Photo: Adobe Stock)

By John Cole

Referring to it as a “pseudoscientific practice,” the Pennsylvania State Boards of Psychology and Osteopathic Medicine voted to adopt new policies opposing the use of “conversion therapy” on LGBTQ+ minors, the Shapiro administration announced Thursday.

The new policies will inform licensed practitioners that the board considers the use of conversion therapy to be “unprofessional, harmful conduct,” and could result in administrative discipline. 

Conversion therapy is a widely discredited practice that seeks to change a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation.

“Professional studies have shown that conversion therapy poses significant health risks to LGBTQ+ youth, and there is no place for this dangerous practice in Pennsylvania,” Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt said. “The Shapiro Administration will continue to protect our young people here in Pennsylvania and we’re hopeful the state boards of Medicine; Nursing; and Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Professional Counselors will follow suit and adopt Statements of Policies that oppose the use of conversion therapy on minors.” 

The press release noted that those additional state boards are expected to vote on similar proposals in the next several weeks. 

In August 2022, then-Gov. Tom Wolf issued an executive order discouraging conversion therapy and directing agencies in the state to discourage the practice.

During Shapiro’s campaign for governor, he said he would support expanding hate crime laws to cover LGBTQ+ communities and ban conversion therapy for minors in the state. 

According to Thursday’s press release, The Trevor Project, a national organization focused on ending suicide among LGBTQ+ young people said it remained an issue in the state and praised the latest move from the Shapiro administration. 

“Conversion therapy is deeply harmful, and LGBTQ+ young people who have undergone it reported more than twice the likelihood of attempting suicide in the previous year compared to their peers,” Troy Stevenson, Director of State Advocacy Campaigns at The Trevor Project said in a statement.

The DOS press release notes that numerous health and medical organizations opposed the use of conversion therapy on minors, including  following organizations oppose conversion therapy: American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry , American Academy of Pediatrics , and the World Psychiatric Association.

Complaints can be filed against a licensed professional engaging in unprofessional or harmful conduct like conversion therapy through the Department of State website.

John Cole is a reporter for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this article first appeared.

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