Almost 700,000 LGBTQ Adults Have Undergone Conversion Therapy In The U.S., According To A New Report

Share
Ad failed to load

Conversion therapy, a nonscientific treatment used to "change" people’s sexual orientation, has been denounced by medical and mental health organizations because it causes harm to people who undergo it, perpetuates negative stereotypes about being LGBTQ, and, of course, isn't effective. Conversion therapy operates under the incorrect assumption that being LGBTQ is something that needs to be "changed" or "cured," and puts LGBTQ folks in danger. But despite being banned in nine states and Washington, D.C., a new report found that almost 700,000 LGBTQ adults have undergone conversion therapy at some point in their lives.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) spoke out against conversion therapy, aka “reparative therapy” and “ex-gay therapy,” in 2015. “So-called reparative therapies are aimed at ‘fixing’ something that is not a mental illness and therefore does not require therapy. There is insufficient scientific evidence that they work, and they have the potential to harm the client,” APA 2015 President Barry S. Anton, PhD, said in a press release. “APA has and will continue to call on mental health professionals to work to reduce misunderstanding about and prejudice toward gay and transgender people.”

Giphy
Ad failed to load

The report, which was published by the Williams Institute at University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law, estimated that 698,000 LGBTQ adults in the United States have received conversion therapy from a licensed professional or a religious advisor (or both) at some point in their lives. Of those, about 350,000 received the treatment during adolescence. The Williams Institute predicted that 20,000 LGBTQ children between ages 13 and 17 will undergo conversion therapy before they turn 18 from a licensed healthcare professional in the 41 states where it is not banned. Additionally, it’s estimated that around 57,000 youths will receive conversion therapy from a religious or spiritual advisor.

Conversion therapy uses nonscientific and often harmful tactics to achieve the goal of changing someone’s sexual orientation. According the Williams Institute’s report, although talk therapy is the most common technique, some practitioners have used “aversion treatments, such as inducing nausea, vomiting, or paralysis; providing shocks; or having the individual snap an elastic band around the wrist when the individual becomes aroused to same-sex erotic images or thoughts.”

A very small minority of the population actually believes that conversion therapy works. In the last five years, several public opinion polls have been conducted to determine what people think of conversion therapy, and according to one, only 8 percent of people believe gay conversion therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation from gay to straight. In 2015, President Obama called for an end to the practice, a stance the American Psychiatric Association applauded.

Ad failed to load

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, LGBTQ individuals are almost three times more likely to experience a mental health condition, such as major depression or generalized anxiety disorder, than heterosexual people. Going through conversion therapy has the potential to exacerbate existing mental health issues or create new ones, according to the report.

Despite the known negative consequences of conversion therapy, conservative Christian groups like the American Family Association (AFA) and the Family Research Council (FRC) support the practice. The AFA, which proclaims “a culture based on biblical truth best serves the well-being of our nation and our families,” encouraged New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez to veto a bill that banned conversion therapy. Martinez signed the measure into law last April. And the FRC inaccurately asserts that homosexuality is a choice and not a characteristic people are born with.

The Williams Institute encourages parents and guardians to “avoid sexual orientation change efforts that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder.” You can combat conversion therapy by encouraging your representatives to sponsor legislation that bans it in your state.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Here's Where Your Next Trip Should Be, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

If you've been craving a vacation, now is a good time to take the plunge. According to data collected by travel site Expedia, late winters and early spring are pretty much the best times of the year to go on vacation. Based on average airfare ticket …
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

Bustle's Editors On Jennifer Aniston + Adam Rippon

We've made it to Friday! It's been a pretty hectic week, and the news that Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux are splitting up might have put a damper on your weekend. But, if like many people you have Monday off, hopefully you can sit back and enjo…
By Rachel Simon

This Timeline Of Justin Theroux & Jennifer Aniston's Relationship Will Break Your Heart All Over Again

Just one day after Valentine's Day, actors Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux announced their breakup after seven years together. The celebrity couple, who were married for two-and-half years, separated quietly at the end of last year. This week, th…
By Priscilla Totiyapungprasert

19 Things Your Parents Told You Were Illegal In The '90s

Kids say — and think — the darnedest things. We have overactive imaginations, adults like to mess with us, and we don't always understand everything we hear. That's why some kids call strawberries "straw babies" — a boo-boo so adorable, you don't eve…
By Megan Grant

Why Uggs Are Never Going Away, Whether You Like Them Or Not

Uggs. The word alone can conjure up memories of teenage years, regrettable outfits, and undeniable comfort. But if, like me, you thought that you've already said goodbye to those fleece-lined tan boots, you can think again. It seems fashion has adopt…
By Lauren Sharkey

I Never Want To Write This Essay Again

I don't know where you were when you heard about Wednesday's high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. I don't know what you were doing, or how you tried to process the news. I do know this: you thought to yourself, not again. And yet, again. Of cou…
By Jenny Hollander

Netflix's New Romantic Movie Will Have You Crying Like It's 'The Fault In Our Stars'

Cancer movies are a heartbreaking staple of Hollywood and have been for decades. It's almost a law of nature: new year, new cancer movie. This year, it's Netflix's Irreplaceable You, a heartbreaking original about a longtime couple who get thrown for…
By Olivia Truffaut-Wong

A Study Suggests Drinking Soda Can Affect Your Fertility — But Don’t Freak Out Just Yet

An awful lot of things can affect fecundability — that is, the probability of conceiving within a single menstrual cycle — but can soda really decrease your chances of getting pregnant? A new study suggests that it might, although it turns out that t…
By Lucia Peters

Here Are All The Terms You Need To Know If You’re Watching Olympic Ski Events Right Now

Every four years the Winter Olympics rolls around to remind me that A) there are so many important Winter Olympic sports, and B) I know virtually nothing any of them. And I know for a fact, I'm not alone, I bet most people don't know what the differe…
By Danielle Colin-Thome

Money Actually CAN Buy Happiness — And Science Figured Out Exactly How Much It Costs

You’ve probably heard the saying “Money can’t buy happiness.” Personally, I’d be more than willing to test out that hypothesis myself, but researchers at Purdue University beat me to it. Researchers found that there is an actual amount of money it ta…
By Katie Mitchell

Kate Middleton Made Sales Of This $1 Secret Accessory Spike & She'll Turn You Into A Believer

There's a royal epidemic going on, people. It's one that causes any and everyone to obsess over the royal family's wardrobe and beauty routines, even if it means breaking the bank to look like them. So a frenzy was expected when Kate Middleton report…
By Summer Arlexis

Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu Have Matching Tattoos & The Story Is So Cute

Olympic season gives people the feels. From those shipping Canadian ice dancing pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to Shaun White's gold medal win on Tuesday, the feels are real. Now, there's another reason to get all up in your emotions. Adam Rippon a…
By Shea Simmons

A New Study Says Being In A Relationship Could Change Your Taste In Wine — Here's How

I’d be willing to bet that for many of you, a nice bottle of wine is awaiting you in your near future — and if you’re planning on sharing that bottle with a partner, there might be more to your choice than meets the eye: According to recent research,…
By Lucia Peters

Carrie Brownstein On Why Even The Obama Era Should Have Enraged You

An icy January morning soon after Hollywood's show of solidarity for the #MeToo movement at the Golden Globes and almost exactly one year into the Trump Administration feels like a momentous time to be sitting across from Carrie Brownstein. The Sleat…
By Samantha Rollins

Here’s What The Upcoming Year Of The Dog Means For Your Chinese Zodiac Sign

On Feb. 16 the world will celebrate the Chinese New Year, welcoming the Year of the Dog in like the good doggo it is — we hope. A new year means new zodiac predictions for the 365 days ahead. So, what does the Year of the Dog mean for your Chinese zo…
By Brittany Bennett

7 Signs You're Ready To Get Into A Relationship, According To Experts

It can be difficult to tell when you're ready to start dating again. Maybe you're coming off of a bad breakup, maybe you've just been focused on other things. And, ironically, one of the signs that you're ready to be in a relationship is that you're …
By Lea Rose Emery

I Got A Breast Reduction & It Was About So Much More Than The Size Of My Boobs

As a young teenager, I pretty much reached peak physical maturity overnight. One day I was wearing my first training bra a la Lizzie McGuire, and the next I was sweatily fumbling around a Victoria’s Secret with 32DD boobs, trying to summon up the cou…
By Sierra Taylor Horton

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
via Romper

The 15 Best Fiction Books Of February Feature Tons Of Extraordinary Women

When the cold winds of February blow in, there's nothing I want more than to hide under my covers with a good book. Luckily, there's more than a few fantastic new fiction books coming out this month, so the only tough decision you'll have to make is …
By Melissa Ragsdale

These 10 Drugstore Red Lipsticks Are Under $10 & Actually *Amazing*

I adore makeup. There are few things I like more than getting myself fancied up in the mornings. It's a little ritual I get to do every day that makes me feel prettier and more put together. When my makeup is on, I'm ready to face the world — pun int…
via Romper

17 Moms Reveal The Most Disgusting Part Of Their Pregnancy

Pregnant bodies do weird-ass things. Weird-ass, gross things. I mean, my pregnant body did (twice), and I have long-suspected I'm not alone. So I asked other moms to share the most disgusting part of their pregnancy and I learned that, not only am I …
via Romper