Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has signed a bill prohibiting mental health professionals from subjecting children under 18 to conversion therapy.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. David Parks (D-Las Vegas), makes it illegal for licensed physicians, therapists, or counselors to engage in therapy intended to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Adults over 18 are free to engage in the practice if they so choose, and the ban does not apply to licensed therapists or counselors who are acting in the role of a pastor or other religious adviser.
“Conversion therapy has been disavowed by medical experts and is considered a non-effective method of treatment that can cause harm to an adolescent. This law will help protect some of our state’s most vulnerable youth,” Sandoval said in a statement, adding that the bill “will not interfere with religious liberties or rights of conscience.”
The Human Rights Campaign praised Sandoval and Nevada lawmakers for approving the ban.
“No child should be put through the dangerous and inhumane practice of conversion therapy,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “Medical professionals agree this outdated and discredited practice not only doesn’t work, but can also have life-threatening consequences. It is nothing short of child abuse.”
With Sandoval’s signature, Nevada becomes the eighth state to ban conversion therapy, following California, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, and Connecticut, which banned the practice last week. Conversion therapy is also banned in the District of Columbia.
In New York, a Republican-led Senate has frustrated efforts to pass a law officially banning the practice, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo has taken executive actions that prevent insurers in the state from covering conversion therapy, and forbid workers in state-run health facilities from practicing on minors.