This morning, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, released a first-of-its-kind federal report on the scientific and medical research behind conversion therapy. The report, “Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth,” makes clear that variations in sexual orientation and gender identity and expression are normal, and that social acceptance and support for LGBTQ youth lead to the best psychological and health outcomes. Conversion therapy aimed at changing someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity can be harmful, and should not be a part of behavioral health treatment.
This report affirms the Obama Administration’s previous statements condemning conversion therapy. In its review of the existing research, the report’s conclusions align with every major medical, psychiatric, psychological, and professional mental health organization—that conversion therapy not only carries a substantial risk of harm, but is also ineffective. The report also outlines supportive therapeutic approaches for LGBTQ youth, opportunities for future research, and strategies to end the practice of conversion therapy. Resources and guidance for healthcare providers, families, and caregivers to support LGBTQ and gender non-conforming children and adolescents are also provided.