Maine now becomes the 17th state in America to ban conversion therapy for minors after their governor, Janet Mills, signed the bill into law last Wednesday. The law takes effect 90 days after the Maine State Legislature adjourns next month.
The 16 other states that have enacted similar bans include New Jersey, California, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Nevada, Washington, Hawaii, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, and Massachusetts.
The Associated Press reports that Mills called conversion therapy “harmful” and “widely discredited” and that it “has no place in Maine.”
“By singing this bill into law today, we send an unequivocal message to young LGBTQ people in Maine and across the country: We stand with you, we support you, and we will always defend your right to be who you are,” Mills said.
Mary Bonauto, the Civil Rights Project director for GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, lauded the move.
“With this law, Maine is taking seriously its responsibility to ensure youth and parents who seek support are not subjected to fraudulent and dangerous practices under the guise of therapy,” she said.
Once the law takes effect, social workers, pharmacy technicians, school psychologists, and other professionals who advertise, administer, or offer conversion therapy to minors will face disciplinary actions from licensing boards.
Conversion therapy is a widely debunked practice that claims to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Some organizations that are critical of the practice include the World Psychiatric Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the UK Council for Psychotherapy, and the Australian Psychological Society.
The past year saw two films bring conversion therapy to the forefront — “Boy Erased” and “The Miseducation of Cameron Post.” Both films resulted in an increase of sign-ups to campaigns focused on banning gay conversion therapy.