Boston, MA– The Massachusetts House voted 147-8 in a bill which would ban the practice of conversion therapy for minors.
The bill, H.140, prevents health care professionals from attempting to "purport to impose change of an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity." If a health care professional were to engage in such behavior, their license could be suspended or revoked. These rules only apply to patients under the age of 18-years-old.
"Ultimately, we all know this bill will ensure that children receive therapy in a healthy, evidence-based and medically sound manner, not one which fosters an atmosphere of self-hate, prejudice and intolerance," said Rep. Kay Khan, who wrote the legislation. "Massachusetts has always been a trailblazer in advancing civil rights and eliminating discrimination in health care settings for the LGBTQ community. This bill is a necessary extension of these historic commitments."
Seven of the 32 House Republicans voted against the vote. Some dissenters felt that the restrictions were too tough on health care professionals. Rep. Shawn Dooley offered an amendment to the bill that would exempt exclusively talk therapy, which he believes should still exist.
"The reality is we are legislating what can be said between a doctor and his patient in the sanctity of that relationship," Dooley said on the floor. "Let's say an 8-year-old boy comes in and says, 'I'm an 8-year-old girl.' Maybe that therapist — and many therapists I've spoken to have brought this up — wants to push back a little bit. Maybe that child isn't transgender, maybe that child's gay, maybe that child's bi. Why not give every opportunity for that therapist to explore that? Why can't the therapist say, 'No, you're not?'"
The vote will next head to the state Senate, and then to Gov. Baker. It is expected to be passed by both.
Image via Wikimedia user Chensiyuan