On the final day of their legislative session, Rhode Island lawmakers approved a bill banning the practice of conversion therapy by licensed counselors on residents under the age of 18.
The Senate voted to approve the House version of the bill, which allows the Department of Health to discipline those licensed counselors who engage in the therapy with minors. The bill also prohibits public funds from being used to facilitate the practice of conversion therapy.
The prohibition on the therapy does not apply to therapy or counseling sought by an individual who is struggling with accepting or navigating issues related to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Gina Raimondo (D), who is expected to sign it into law.
Once signed into law, the bill would make Rhode Island the eleventh jurisdiction to ban the practice. The other jurisdictions that have banned the practice, either through legislation or through administrative changes to insurance coverage, include California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Vermont.
Several localities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida have also banned the practice.
“No child should be put through the dangerous and inhumane practice of conversion therapy,” Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement following the bill’s passage. “Medical professionals agree this outdated and discredited practice not only doesn’t work, but can also have life-threatening consequences.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. We thank the Rhode Island State Legislature for protecting the state’s LGBTQ youth.”