News (USA)

Md. lawmaker withdraws bill to prohibit conversion therapy on LGBT youth

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A bill that would have banned mental health professionals in Maryland from engaging in efforts to change a youth’s sexual orientation or gender identity has been withdrawn.

Del. Jon S. Cardin
Del. Jon S. Cardin

Baltimore County Delegate John Cardin,(D) the bill’s sponsor, withdrew the measure Friday , saying that LGBT advocacy groups and others will instead pursue regulatory oversight of the controversial practice.

“If we can do this without legislation, I am all about it,” said Cardin, in a statement. “I am not interested in the glory. I’m interested in solving problems.”

Cardin’s bill had targeted the state’s professional counselors that fall under regulatory oversight but had excluded unlicensed church clergy or therapists, from engaging in efforts to change a youth’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Cardin and Equality Maryland, Maryland’s largest LGBT equality rights advocacy group, both labeled the practice of conversion therapy, also referred to as reparative therapy, as dangerous, citing multiple professional medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association as opposing the practice.

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In a joint statement Friday, Cardin and Carrie Evans, Equality Maryland’s executive director, said that in research for the bill, and in talking to “several organizations with expertise in regulatory protections for patients,” they concluded that patients who feel they have been harmed by “conversion” or “reparative” therapy already have avenues to complain to state health occupation boards.

“Minors or anyone advocating on their behalf can file a complaint with a board, triggering a vigorous investigation,” the statement said. “If the investigation uncovers proof that a licensed health care professional violated the standard of care, then the board has an array of regulatory tools to keep this from happening again.”

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