Think conversion therapy is a thing of the past? Think again.
Conversion therapy refers to the practice of trying to forcibly change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Despite a rise in bans on the practice at the state level, a new report from the Trevor Project shows that there are more than 1,320 conversion therapy practitioners operating across the U.S. The report identified these practitioners by looking at easily accessible online information, where the services are advertised with terms including “reparative therapy,” “ex-gay,” and “unwanted same-sex attraction.”
Of those practitioners, more than 600 hold active professional licenses for therapy, counseling, social work, psychology, or other mental health services, while more than 700 operate via religious organizations.
The joint statement was eight years in the making, and it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.
Marriage and family counselor Brian Tingley is claiming that the law violates freedom of speech and religion.
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Overall, the Trevor Project found active conversion therapy practitioners in 48 states and the District of Columbia, with only Vermont and Hawaii having no identifiable practitioners. On the other end of the spectrum, Pennsylvania was found to have the most active conversion therapy practices, followed by Texas, Minnesota, Missouri, and Ohio, in that order. Taking a broader look, the South and the Midwest are the regions with the most practitioners.
“More than a decade after the first laws banning conversion therapy took effect in California and New Jersey, and despite growing awareness of the devastation conversion therapy brings, the findings of this research reveal a disturbing reality: conversion therapy practitioners remain in abundant supply across the nation,” reads the conclusion of the report.
Indeed, even in states where the practice is illegal, practitioners are working in defiance of those bans, often using coded language to bypass scrutiny. Practitioners with a religious affiliation are often able to get around state-level bans on the grounds of religious freedom.
Perhaps most chillingly, the report found that of the currently unlicensed practitioners, more than 70 are in training to receive licenses in their chosen fields, pointing to the growth of what some thought to be the bygone industry of conversion therapy.
“The results of this research illuminate the depth of work that remains to end conversion therapy,” the report continues. “Faced with a sprawling conversion therapy industry, advocates, policymakers, faith leaders, healthcare professionals, educators, and relevant businesses must do everything in their power to cut off the supply of this exploitative, fraudulent practice.”
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