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Fish editorial published in AJPH

So-called “conversion therapy” efforts create serious harm for youth that are LGBTQ

Faculty Associate Jessica Fish and her colleague Dr. Stephen T. Russel (UT, Austin) explain in an editorial in the August issue of American Journal of Public Health the deleterious effects of attempts at "conversion therapy" on LGBTQ youth. These practices attempt to repress and alter a person’s sexual orientation from lesbian, gay, or bisexual to heterosexual or their gender identity from transgender to cisgender, the authors write. The common terms “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy” are "not therapeutic, are not reparative, and do not offer the possibility of conversion (the implication that LGBTQ people need repair or conversion is itself demeaning)," they say. Fish and Russel argue that the language is important because it lends legitimacy to practices that are traumatizing to youth and further stigmatize them.  Sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts (which the authors refer to as SOGICE) have been banned in 20 states and many jurisdictions over the past seven years. They detail how adolescents are uniquely vulnerable to the harms of SOGICE, given their dependence on parents and the influence parents may exert to force them to comply. 

For more details about the editorial, see the summary in the School of Public Health News or the full article in the American Journal of Public Health.