Out Texas State Rep. Celia Israel, a
Democrat, on Friday introduced a bill which seeks to prohibit
therapies that attempt to alter the sexual orientation or gender
identity of LGBT youth.
If House Bill 3495 becomes law, Texas
would become only the fourth jurisdiction after California, New
Jersey and Washington, D.C. to outlaw so-called conversion therapy.
Gay rights groups applauded the move.
“Time and again we see the
psychological wreckage from so-called conversion therapy and it has
to stop,” Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas, said
in a statement. “Even onetime champions of this dangerous technique
have changed their minds as the evidence piles up that such 'therapy'
doesn’t work and, worse, is dangerous. Rep. Israel’s leadership
here is welcome and puts the well-being of children first.”
“No child should be subjected to this
extremely harmful and discredited so-called therapy,” said Human
Rights Campaign (HRC) National Field Director Marty Rouse. “These
harmful practices are based on the false claim that being LGBT is a
mental illness that should be cured, using fear and shame to tell
young people that the only way to find love or acceptance is to
change the very nature of who they are. Psychological abuse has no
place in therapy, no matter the intention.”
LGBT advocate the National Center for
Lesbian Rights (NCLR) last year launched its #BornPerfect campaign,
which aims to raise awareness about “the serious harms caused by
attempts to change a young person's sexual orientation or gender
“Today, more than ever, it is clear
that LGBT youth and their families need accurate information about
the dangers of these unscientific and unethical practices, and this
bill is a powerful educational tool. For the first time in history,
laws like this are shining a light on an issue that has remained in
the shadows for too long,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights
Staff Attorney and #BornPerfect Campaign coordinator Samantha Ames.
“We commend Representative Israel on making the lives of LGBT
children a priority, as well all the local organizers who have worked
tirelessly to get this bill introduced and ensure all Texans have the
opportunity to grow up in a safe community where they are loved for
exactly who they are.”
Supporters of such therapies
unsuccessfully sued to keep bans in New Jersey and California from