At Basic Rights Oregon and other gay rights organizations, they were breaking out the bubbly Thursday – the bubbly press releases, that is – as Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed into law HB 2307, a ban on state-licensed mental health professionals using “conversion therapy” on young LGBTQ clients.
Oregon is one of just three states, plus the District of Columbia, to adopt such a ban. The other two are California and New Jersey.
It can also be harmful. According to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, young people are at particular risk from conversion therapy, with a fivefold jump in their likelihood of severe depression and three times the risk they will use illegal drugs.
Diane Goodwin, Communications Director at Basic Rights Oregon, which has been fighting for the law since its inception, said, “The Youth Mental Health Protection Act will protect LGBTQ youth in Oregon who may be struggling with their identities, as so many of us do during our teenage years. We believe that all of us are born perfect and should be celebrated for who we are. We are thrilled we were able to work with the Oregon legislature to pass this bill.”
The new law applies to licensed psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors and therapists. But while psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers must be licensed, in Oregon a license is not required to provide counseling or therapy. The state licensing board has no authority over unlicensed practitioners, except to stop unlicensed counselors and therapists from stating or implying they are licensed. That means unlicensed therapists could still offer conversion therapy. However, the new law may reduce its frequency.
In addition, Goodwin said the law sends a message.
“When you consider that LGBTQ youth are four times more like to attempt suicide compared to their peers, it’s clear we must do more to help our young people,” she said. “The harms caused by conversion therapy are very real and have hurt too many people. This law sends a clear signal to parents, family members and youth that conversion therapy is wrong and should not be practiced.
“We’re proud to live in a state where we support and celebrate our LGBTQ youth. Basic Rights Oregon is honored to work with the Legislature and Governor Brown to ban these discredited and unsound practices in Oregon. ”
The law takes effect immediately.
In crisis? Or just need to talk? The Trevor Project Lifeline is for gay, lesbian, bi, trans and questioning youth ages 13-24. It’s free, non-judgmental and available 24/7! Call 866-488-7386.