Virginia’s as close as it’s ever been to banning conversion therapy for minors. And it seems likely we’ll get there before the end of the current General Assembly session.
On January 24, Virginia Senator Scott Surovell’s bill banning conversion therapy for minors passed the Senate. And on Monday, February 3, Delegate Patrick Hope’s similar bill passed the House of Delegates. These two advances put Virginia closer to passing a full ban on conversion therapy than it’s ever been. And it’s only taken the General Assembly’s transfer to Democratic control to make it happen.
In previous years, when Republicans controlled both houses of the state legislature, bills banning conversion therapy were repeatedly struck down, often never making it to a floor vote in the House Of Delegates. Advocates for the ban have instead had to work through other means.
They’ve been successful to an extent — the Virginia Board of Psychology and multiple state agencies within the Department of Health Professions have released guidance stating that conversion therapy is a violation of standard practice. Additionally, both Richmond and Virginia Beach City Councils have passed resolutions asking the General Assembly to enact a ban on conversion therapy.
While the bills must still go through the reconciliation process, in which each House passes the other’s bill and the bills are combined into one that can be sent to the governor for signing, the bills passed their biggest hurdle just by getting the initial votes needed to pass each house of the General Assembly. And Adam Trimmer, Virginia ambassador for anti-conversion therapy group Born Perfect, was grateful to see that happen.
“When I think about my experience, I get pretty angry,” Trimmer told WTVR, referring to his own experience undergoing conversion therapy. “I had years of my life taken away from me, and I’m excited that doesn’t have to happen with youth anymore.”
Top Photo By Varmin, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia