LANSING — Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) and Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) introduced legislation this week to make Michigan the seventeenth state to ban the use of conversion therapy by health professionals. Senate Bill 284 and House Bill 4515 protect the rights of LGBTQ youth by prohibiting treatments that seek to force changes to sexual orientation or gender identity in individuals under the age of 18. 

“Eradicating conversion therapy will send a clear message that Michigan is a place where discrimination will not be tolerated,” Sen. McMorrow said. “If we want to attract and retain talented, hardworking people in our communities, we need to ensure that our state is welcoming and open to all.”

Medical and mental health experts, including professionals at the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association and National Association of Social Workers, warn against conversion therapy and its impact. 

“We must label conversion therapy as what it is: child abuse. There is no amount of junk science that will change someone’s orientation,” said Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield), a co-sponsor of SB 284. “The dangerous practices that some adults employ on vulnerable children cannot be tolerated.”

Conversion therapy contributes to self-harming behaviors like depression, low self-esteem, substance abuse and even suicide. It is based on the false claim that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is a mental illness. 

“Conversion therapy is based on prejudice and has been discredited by modern medicine,” Rep. Rabhi said. “It is time to end the brutal legacy of this practice, which has caused deep psychological damage for many Michiganders.”

Sixteen other states — including Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon and Connecticut — and the District of Columbia have already banned this harmful practice.