By Bob Katzen
The House 148-8, Senate 34-0, approved and Gov. Baker signed into law a bill that would prohibit psychiatrists, psychologists and other health care providers from attempting to change the sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression of anyone under 18. Conversion therapy exposes the person to a stimulus while simultaneously subjecting him or her to some form of discomfort. The therapy is primarily used to try to convert gays and lesbians to be straight.
Mental health experts and LGBTQ groups charge that the practice is scientifically unproven and unsound and can trigger depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts in these youngsters.
“We can offer assurances to those still struggling with coming out, or whose parents are still coming to terms with their orientation or identity, that that they will not be sent to a licensed therapist to change who they know themselves to be,” said Rep. Jack Lewis (D-Framingham) at the time of the vote.
“This vote was an appalling assault on parental rights in the commonwealth,” said the president of the Massachusetts Family Institute Andrew Beckwith who opposed lifting the ban. “Over 140 of our state legislators apparently believe that parents should not be able to get gender-confused children any treatment, even counseling, that might help them avoid cross-sex hormone injections, sterility or ‘transition’ surgery.