HARRISBURG, Penn. — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf issued an executive order Tuesday banning conversion therapy, an attempt to change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Conversion therapy is a traumatic practice based on junk science that actively harms the people it supposedly seeks to treat,” said Gov. Wolf in a statement. “This discriminatory practice is widely rejected by medical and scientific professionals and has been proven to lead to worse mental health outcomes for LGBTQIA+ youth subjected to it. This is about keeping our children safe from bullying and extreme practices that harm them.”
State agencies are directed under the executive order to discourage conversion therapy and promote "evidence-based best practices" for LGBTQIA+ youth that are "supported by the scientific and medical communities."
The executive order also directs the state agencies to update their policies and procedures to serve Pennsylvania’s LGBTQ+ community better.
Under the executive order, the Department of Human Services, the Insurance Department, and Department of State is directed that state funds, programs, contracts, and other resources are not used to provide, authorize, endorse, reimburse for, or refer for conversion therapy.
“Conversion therapy is causing horrific consequences for the mental health and well-being of a generation of young LGBTQIA+ individuals,” said Gov. Wolf. “But there is something very simple that we can all do to help. We can stand up and tell LGBTQIA+ youth that we hear them and we accept them exactly as they are."
According to the LGBTQ think tank Movement Advancement Project, Pennsylvania is the 26th state to partially ban the practice for minors, NBC News reported.
CNN reported that a study funded by the Trevor Project published earlier this year found that conversion therapy causes severe emotional harm to LGBTQ people.
CNN reported that the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics published a study that found that those who underwent conversion therapy suffered severe psychological distress and experienced significantly higher rates of depression.