Five Pennsylvania Health Boards Jointly Condem the Use of Conversion Therapy on Minors

“We will not let hatred masquerade as medical treatment here in Pennsylvania.”

Five Pennsylvania state health boards have released a joint statement opposing conversion therapy on minors. This has been resoundingly supported by the Pennsylvania Equality Caucus of the General Assembly.

This coordinated effort acknowledges the dangers associated with conversion therapy but also sends an unequivocal message against the disguise of hate as medical treatment within the state’s borders.

Pennsylvania’s health community should not discriminate. This statement draws a line at the harmful bigotry of conversion therapy. Further, it emphasizes that access to health care is a human right, one too often tainted by personal bias and systemic barriers.

These boards, which oversee Nursing, Medicine, Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, Professional Counselors, Psychology, and Osteopathic Medicine, have unanimously agreed to adopt new statements of policy strongly opposing the practice of conversion therapy on minors.

“The LGBTQ+ community often faces a troubling disparity, where accessing appropriate health care can be tainted by discrimination, misunderstanding and systemic barriers. This new policy, adopted throughout the state, validates what advocates have been saying for decades about the dangers of conversion therapy, and sends a clear message that we will not let hatred masquerade as medical treatment here in Pennsylvania.”

The new policies notify licensees that all five boards consider the use of conversion therapy to be unprofessional, harmful conduct that may subject any licensee engaging in it to administrative discipline.

They said that conversion therapy refers to any practice that seeks or purports to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity

As I read over this, I kept thinking back to watching a Pittsburgh nurse interviewed at a Trump rally. I thought to the phlebotomist in the North Hills whose office was filled with Christian core symbols and messages. Then there was the insurance clerk at AGH who refused to acknowledge my marital status, referring to my wife as my friend.

I could think of dozens of other examples where my sexual orientation ran into systemic barriers. I’m a white cisgender  adult with good insurance, yet it has happened repeatedly. It happens to most women, most disabled folx, and definitely most people with mental illness.

We have to protect those most vulnerable. We have to be vigilant for indicators of this bias and these barriers. And report the bastards so there are consequences.

I hope these policies will have some teeth and grit when the extreme right pushes back. Fortunately, these bigots can seek work in the conversion therapy ministry of their choice.


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