D.C. may soon have America’s toughest conversion therapy ban

The White House in rainbow colors.

On June 26, 2015, the White House was lit with the colors of the rainbow in celebration of the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. Pete Souza / White House

The D.C. Council approved two pro-LGBTQ bills and one “Sense of the Council” resolution yesterday.

The first bill – the Conversion Therapy for Consumers Under a Conservatorship or Guardianship Amendment Act of 2018 – bans licensed mental health professionals from providing conversion therapy for “a consumer for whom a conservator or guardian has been appointed.”

Currently, D.C. bans conversion therapy for minors, like 14 states do. The new law will extend that protection to adults who are in the care of another person.

“An individual whose medical decisions are made by a guardian or conservator is in a dependent status and could be subject to conversion therapy against their will,” according to testimony from Dr. Marc Dalton, Chief Clinical Officer at the D.C. Department of Behavioral Health.

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The council gave the bill unanimous support in its second reading, and Mayor Muriel Bowser is expected to sign it. It will then go to the U.S. Congress for 30 days for approval, as all D.C. laws do.

If passed, the D.C. law would be the first in the nation to ban conversion therapy for some adults.

The council also unanimously supported a bill that would require D.C. public and charter schools to administer the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey.

The confidential survey asks students questions about their sexual orientation and gender identity.

The bill would also require the city’s Department of Health to participate in the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which also includes questions about sexual orientation and gender identity.

D.C. Council member David Grosso said that fear that the Trump administration would eliminate the sexual orientation and gender identity questions inspired the bill, which is due for its second reading later this month.

The third measure – a “Sense of the Council” resolution – passed unanimously. The resolution denounces an effort led by the Department of Health and Human Services to redefine gender as sex assigned at birth in order to deny legal protections to transgender people.

The council also approved gay activist Peter Rosenstein’s nomination to the D.C. Office of Employee Appeals.

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