LANSING, Mich., May 22, 2023 — Michigan Democrats reintroduced legislation this week that would prohibit mental health professionals from engaging in conversion therapy with a minor. House Bills 4616 and 4617, sponsored by state Reps. Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield) and Jason Hoskins (D-Southfield), and Senate Bills 348 and 349, sponsored by state Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak), would ban any practice or treatments by licensed mental health professionals that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Protecting the young people of our state from conversion therapy practices is a top priority,” Brabec said. “As a clinical psychologist, I recognize the severity of this issue and understand how harmful this practice can be to the mental health of our children. Banning such an adverse and outdated practice is a great first step Michigan can take toward affirming its LGBTQ+ youth.”
Conversion therapy and the idea that one can be “cured” of their sexual orientation or gender identity has been overwhelmingly disavowed by experts and organizations in both the medical and mental health communities.
“Michigan has made huge strides to become a more welcoming state, but we must do more to protect our kids when they’re at their most vulnerable: growing up, figuring out who they are and how they fit in with the world around them,” McMorrow said. “Kids who are subjected to conversion therapy in an attempt to change their gender identity or sexual orientation attempt suicide at more than double the rate of their LGBTQ+ peers, and, in short, this junk science amounts to nothing more than child abuse.”
A 2019 study from the American Medical Association found that transgender individuals who reported receiving conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to have attempted suicide than their transgender peers who had not undergone conversion therapy. Additionally, the study found that the risk of attempted suicide was four times more likely for individuals subjected to conversion therapy practices before age 10.
“Conversion therapy is an outdated practice based on the belief that being LGBTQ+ is something in need of fixing. We know better today, and it’s time to protect Michigan’s children from this injustice,” said Hoskins, who is the first openly gay person of color serving in the Michigan Legislature. “I’m very optimistic we can come together on this, because it just feels so commonsense to remove every vestige of abuse or discrimination like this, from the paths of children and young adults.”
Twenty-one other states have already banned conversion therapy. Both Republican and Democratic governors across the nation have signed conversion therapy bans into law, including Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Washington) and former Gov. Chris Christie (R-New Jersey).