Nine months after Seattle became the third American city to ban conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth, US Senator Patty Murray (WA) will reintroduce a bill in Congress to ban the widely debunked, harmful practice nationwide.
Eight years ago, the American Psychological Association conducted a review of conversion therapy "treatments"—which stem from the belief that being gay is a sin or a disorder—and concluded that they are unlikely to work and could damage the very people conversion therapy claims to help. Last year, Murray and 17 other Democratic senators introduced the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, which would have classified conversion therapy as a fraudulent practice and given the Federal Trade Commission the authority to crack down on people peddling "pray the gay away" treatment for money. The bill died in committee.
Today, Murray and 23 other Democrats will reintroduce the bill, which has taken on new urgency because of the Trump administration, Murray said in a statement.
“On this and so many other issues impacting the LGBTQ community, the Trump Administration has laid out a hateful, damaging agenda to undo hard-won progress, divide our communities, and hurt our friends, neighbors, and family members just because of who they are or who they love,” Murray said. “This is absolutely the wrong direction for our country—and I will continue to push for ways to make sure all people, regardless of who they are or who they love, are treated equally and with respect.”
During the Republican National Convention before the 2016 election, delegates endorsed a party platform that signaled support for conversion therapy. It included the “right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children.”
In February, the Trump administration also rescinded Department of Education protections for transgender students in public schools. The Obama administration had previously issued guidances saying that preventing transgender students from using restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity violated federal anti-discrimination law.
On a state level, trans rights activists are fighting a similar attempt to roll back human rights protections for transgender students. Anti-trans activists, under the banner of "Just Want Privacy," are gathering signatures for a proposed ballot initiative that would allow schools to police where trans students pee—and allow angry parents to sue schools if students use facilities consistent with their gender identity.