Prohibiting conversion therapy

AFSP stands with the consensus of every major health organization that conversion therapy efforts are inappropriate and harmful therapeutic interventions.

About the issue

Conversion therapy, also known as sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) or reparative therapy, is the practice of counseling and/or psychotherapy that attempts to change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The practice is based on the belief that homosexuality is a mental illness that needs to be cured, a belief that has been found to be scientifically invalid in the mental health professional community.

Conversion therapy has been found to interrupt healthy identity development, create mistrust of mental health professionals, and deteriorate relationships with family, all of which can be especially detrimental to children and adolescents. Taking steps to ban conversion therapy practices with minors will protect LGBTQ youth and reduce suicide risk. It is vital to hold professionals and licensed mental health providers accountable and require that they follow an ethical code, including the prohibition of fraudulent services with no scientific basis.

Where we stand

AFSP stands with the research, clinical expertise, and expert consensus of every major professional health organization that conversion therapy efforts are inappropriate and harmful therapeutic interventions.

AFSP urges states to prohibit this discredited practice and protect LGBTQ youth through legislative action. In states without conversion therapy bans, an estimated 20,000 LGBTQ youth ages 13-17 will be subjected to the practice by the time they turn 18 unless policy makers take action. State laws to prohibit conversion therapy by licensed professionals are critical in reducing the amount of youth impacted by its dangers.

To learn more, read our Conversion Therapy issue brief.

Additional resources

LGBTQ Suicide and Suicide Risk (AFSP)

The Trevor Project’s 50 Bills 50 States is the largest campaign in the world endeavoring to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy in every state of the nation and countries around the world. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-TALK (8255) - Available 24/7

Crisis Text Line

Text TALK to 741-741 - Available 24/7

Trevor Lifeline

1 (866) 488-7386 - Phone support for LGBTQ youth available 24/7

Trevor Text

Text START to 678-678 - Chat & text support for LGBTQ youth available M-F 3-10pm EST/ 12-7pm PST

Trans Lifeline

1-877-565-8860 - Support for transgender people, by transgender people

SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline

1-888-234-SAGE (7243)
Peer-support and local resources for older adults

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