(WTNH) — A brand-new federal report is calling for the end of a controversial and harmful practice designed to change the identities of those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community – but most importantly, the youth.
The report put out today by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recognizes conversion therapy as harmful and dangerous. The practice and its ethics have come under fire from not only the Obama administration, but also the American Psychological Association, states across the country, and even the US Congress.
What is conversion therapy?
Conversion therapy is a practice where members of the LGBT community are brought into treatment to change or “convert” their sexual identity, gender expression, or gender identity. Furthermore, the most common age of people who receive this controversial treatment are adolescents as they’re figuring themselves out.
The conversion therapy works on the premise that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is not normal. Mental health experts and LGBT advocates argue otherwise; they say variations in sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression are perfectly normal.
Today’s report, which was developed with the help of the American Psychological Association (APA), explains there’s no evidence to support the ongoing use of conversion therapy.
Additionally, the harm is two-fold: the practitioners have no background in psychology or medical treatment, and there are long-lasting effects on the people receiving treatment.
By and large, practitioners are often unlicensed and lack appropriate training to even administer therapeutic treatment.
As for those undergoing conversion therapy, experts say they are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and poor self-esteem. Experts say these negative mental health effects may also lead to substance abuse and risky sexual behaviors.
What can be done to move away from these harmful practices?
Experts say decreasing stigma and negative attitudes toward those in the LGBT community should come first and foremost. That includes more training and education for behavioral health providers. However, support should also come from families, teachers, and other care providers of those in the LGBT community.
Information from Reuters