Sims hosts press conference condemning conversion therapy on minors

HARRISBURG, Oct. 23 – State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., flanked by House and Senate colleagues and LGBTQ advocates, today hosted a news conference to discuss legislation that would make Pennsylvania the 19th state to ban the dangerous practice of conversion therapy on minors, which attempts to change an individual's gender identity or sexual orientation.


“It is time that the commonwealth catches up to the 18 other states and numerous municipalities in the state that already ban conversion therapy,” Sims said. “This abusive practice is causing higher rates of depression among our LGBTQ youth, and even worse, it’s coming at the expense of their lives. I am honored and encouraged by the strong group of advocates that have come together to demand we outlaw this archaic and harmful practice. Over the weeks and months to come we have the opportunity to see who in the commonwealth wants to stand with us to protect children."


Sims introduced legislation (H.B. 1293) that seeks to address harms associated with conversion therapy, by prohibiting a mental health professional from engaging in this so-called treatment with minors.


The practice has been universally panned by accredited medical organizations across the nation.


At the news conference, advocates described the painful procedures LGBTQ minors are forced to endure during conversion therapy, such as verbal and mental abuse, and electric shock therapy.


“After surviving five years of conversion therapy, I was finally free to be myself and be proud. I am grateful to Brian Sims for letting LGBTQ youth know they are born perfect. I look forward to Pennsylvania soon joining the many other states that have taken steps to protect vulnerable young from this discredited and harmful practice,” said Mathew Shurka, chief strategist for the National Center for Lesbian Right’s Born Perfect Campaign.


Attendees also applauding the legislation and those in attendance for their support of Sims' legislation.


“It's heartening to see lawmakers and advocates recognize the urgent need to protect LGBTQ youth from so-called 'conversion therapy,' said Xavier Persad, senior legislative counsel at the Human Rights Campaign. "This practice is harmful, dangerous and has been debunked by every major medical and psychological association in the United States. It has no place in Pennsylvania or anywhere else. We look forward to working alongside leaders and officials throughout the commonwealth to take action to ensure that no young person in Pennsylvania is subjected to this life-threatening practice."


Neighboring Delaware and New Jersey are among the 18 states nationwide to ban conversion therapy, while 10 municipalities in Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, have also banned the practice.


"The Trevor Project is excited to work with this fierce coalition of local, state, and national advocates and state lawmakers to make Pennsylvania the 19th state to stop this discredited practice by licensed therapist once and for all. We're committed to protecting Pennsylvanian youth from the dangers of conversion therapy, and we look forward to supporting the Keystone State as it stands on the right side of history," said Sam Brinton, head of advocacy and government affairs for The Trevor Project, the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people.