Despite films like Boy Erased and The Miseducation of Cameron Post shedding light on the horrors of so-called “conversion therapy,” which claims to be able to change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, the practice is still legally carried out by licensed health care providers (and religious groups, who are largely exempt from such laws) in most of the United States.
Below, learn more about how and when conversion therapy was outlawed in different parts of the country.
Please note: This is an ongoing list and will be updated with new entries as the fight to end conversion therapy continues nationwide.
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In January 2019, New York became the 15th state in the U.S. to ban licensed mental health care providers from practicing conversion therapy. The ban was passed in tandem with the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which makes gender identity a protected class under New York’s human rights laws.
Maryland also banned the practice in May 2018, and the bill was even signed into law by a Republican official, Gov. Larry Hogan.
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Back in April 2017, New Mexico’s Republican governor signed a bill into law preventing health care professionals from conducting the practice on minors.
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The Ocean State also banned conversion therapy in 2017, when Gov. Gina Raimondo approved a bill restricting the practice for minors.
In July 2018, Delaware officially prohibited conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth, describing the practice as “unprofessional conduct” for licensed medical and mental health professionals statewide.
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Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill banning conversion therapy for minors in New Hampshire in June 2018. (In the same legislative session, Sununu also expanded the state’s nondiscrimination protections to include gender identity as a protected class.)
Last March, Washington state outlawed the practice for LGBTQ minors. According to the Seattle Times, Gov. Jay Inslee likened conversion therapy to “child abuse.” “We have always believed in civil rights in our state,” he said. “We believe in tolerance for all.”
The Silver State banned the practice for youth back in July 2017, making it illegal for licensed health care providers to administer conversion therapy.
Also in May 2017, Connecticut took a stand against conversion therapy, banning it to protect LGBTQ minors statewide. The bill that eventually became law even garnered bipartisan support in Connecticut’s state legislature.
In May 2018, Hawaii officially prohibited licensed medical providers from performing conversion therapy on LGBTQ minors.
“Overwhelming scientific research has shown that ’conversion therapy’ is not effective and frequently has lasting, harmful psychological impacts on minors,” Gov. David Ige told Hawaiian News Now. “This practice is neither medically nor ethically appropriate.”
Bernie Sanders’ home state outlawed conversion therapy all the way back in May 2016.
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Lawmakers in the Prairie State also outlawed conversion therapy for queer minors in 2015, using its impossible-top-prove track record of actually being “successful” to argue that the practice is consumer fraud.
Lawmakers in the Golden State outlawed conversion therapy for minors back in 2012. More recently, Democrats in the California state legislature have tried to push forward legislation that would ban use of the practice on LGBTQ people of all ages—a first in the U.S.
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New Jersey banned conversion therapy all the way back in 2013. Since then, the ban has been challenged by conservative Christian groups, including Liberty Counsel, who tried to get the Supreme Court to overturn it this February.
Massachusetts became the 16th state to ban conversion therapy when Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed the legislation into law on April 8, 2019, which passed with overwhelming majorities in both the state House and Senate.
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The Pine Tree State barred the practice on minors on May 29, 2019, when Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill into law. That bill had previously passed through the state’s legislature with support from Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
Out Gov. Jared Polis signed two pro-LGBTQ bills into law on the eve of the kickoff to Pride Month, May 31, 2019, one of which banned conversion therapy on minor. (The other makes it easier for trans and gender non-binary people to update their birth certificates and other state issued IDs.) The law also makes advertising conversion therapy a deceptive trade practice.
The Beehive State’s Republican governor signed a law banning conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors in January 2020, making Utah one of the most conservative states in the nation to restrict the practice.
The District of Columbia was also an early champion for LGBTQ youth: D.C. lawmakers outlawed conversion therapy in 2014.