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No reason to change perfect: It is time to ban conversion therapy in the US

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at American chapter.

On January 22, 2022, France’s national assembly passed a law banning conversion therapy. The law came from a 142-0 unanimous national assembly vote. The punishment for breaking this law includes jail time and various fines, up to 2 years in prison and €30,000.

Conversion therapy is the act of forcibly trying to change someone’s sexuality, sexual orientation or gender identity. This is attempted in various ways such as a psychoanalytic approach the same therapy approach for psychopaths or aversive conditioning, where a patient’s homosexual tendencies are associated with pain, through methods such as nauseating drugs or electric shocks. The American Psychiatric Association states, “No credible evidence exists that any mental health intervention can reliably and safely change sexual orientation; nor, from a mental health perspective does sexual orientation need to be changed.”

France has joined other countries in this vital step towards change, others including Norway, Argentina, Uruguay and many more. Yet, the United States still has not banned this practice.

Twenty states in the U.S. have banned conversion therapy for minors, and five states have partial bans against this practice for minors, but there is yet to be a full ban of the practice in general.  This has also left twenty-five states to have no ban at all.

The negative effects of this inaccurate therapy are obvious with a  UCLA study finding that people who go through conversion therapy have a 92% greater chance of having suicidal ideations, a 75% greater chance of planning suicide and 88% of attempting suicide. 

These staggering statistics become even more horrifying when you realize how many people have been through conversion therapy. Nearly 700,000 people have been through this practice and this number keeps growing. In addition, 350,000 of these people went through the therapy in their adolescence. With this in mind it means that about 630,000 people were more likely to have suicidal ideations, 525,000 were more likely to plan suicide and 616,000 were more likely to make an attempt on their own lives.

If conversion therapy has already been proven to be wildly unsuccessful and harmful, why is it still legal to practice it in the United States? Creating self-hatred is not therapy. Although there have been attempts to ban this practice, none have been successful because of opposition from many religious groups. 

Furthermore, banning conversion therapy is not enough. There needs to be more shared education around the subject. In order to reduce stigma and create safe places for LGBTQ+ students there needs to be more implementation of education of the history around LGBTQ+ movements, inclusivity in sexual education, and promoting inclusivity. There is no reason to change perfect, there is no reason to change sexual orientation.

Katherine Mahan

American '25