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News & Press: General

MPA Testifies to Support Banning Conversion Therapy for Minors

Thursday, September 7, 2017   (0 Comments)
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MPA Testifies in Support of Preventing Abusive Practices to Change

Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity in Minors

 

The Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities heard testimony on H.1190 and S.62, An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors on June 6, 2017.  The practice of therapists attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a person, often referred to as “reparative healing” or “conversion therapy” has been viewed by professional organizations as ineffective and, in many cases, abusive.  This is especially true of situations where a minor is being forced or strongly encouraged to undergo this treatment as a means of eliminating same-sex attraction or transgender identity.

An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors seeks to address this problem by prohibiting licensed practitioners from engaging these practices, and requiring state mandated reporters to report suspected instances of a minor being subjected to conversion therapy.  When the bill was initially proposed during the 2015-2016 Legislative Session, MPA was concerned that the wording could unintentionally introduce a new form of liability for behavioral health providers who engage in well-intentioned therapeutic conversations about sexual orientation or gender identity minor clients.  Representative Kay Kahn, who sponsored the bill, and the original proponents of the bill were responsive to MPA’s concerns and worked to modify the language to allow for these well-intentioned conversations.

 

MPA’s Executive Director, Mr. Brian Doherty, provided written testimony to the committee in support of the bill, where he highlighted the multi-year process of securing important changes to the bill text to limit potential liability for providers.  The bill was also discussed in Mr. Doherty’s article in the June 2017 MPA newsletter, as well as in a WGBH report on the hearing and MPA’s role in finalizing the language for the bill.  Click here to read Mr. Doherty’s complete official testimony on behalf of MPA.

On July 13, 2017 the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities reported favorably on the bill and it has been referred to the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing.  The next step in the process is that MPA will advocate in meetings with legislative committee members and staff that the committee schedule a public hearing soon.  Members who live in the districts represented by Committee Chairs Sen. James Welch (D) of the Hampden District (representing parts of Springfield and Chicopee) and Rep. Peter Kocot (D) of the 1st Hampshire District (representing parts of Northampton and surrounding towns) are encouraged to communicate their support for this bill directly to their legislator.  Not sure who represents you? Find your legislators.

For members that do not live in one of these districts but who want to support our efforts on this vital legislation, keep an eye out for updates.  If and when the bill is schedule for a public hearing, we’ll send out notifications with suggestions for how you can help.


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