Last week a New Mexico bill baning a harmful medical practice, often referred to as “conversion therapy,” to protect LGBTQ youth was signed into law by Gov. Susana Martinez. This would prohibit any licensed medical staff from practicing any form of therapy meant to alter someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill was carried by Sen. Jacob Candelaria, the first gay man and second openly LGBTQ person to serve in New Mexico’s state legislature.
Conversion therapy is a discredited practice that tries to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It falsely presumes that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that needs therapy to change. Research has shown this practice is associated with incredible health risks for youth, such as depression, substance abuse and homelessness. Conversion therapy is condemned by every major medical and mental health organization.
“In New Mexico, we value and celebrate every child for who they are. I want to thank Governor Martinez for having the courage to stand up for the simple truth that every LGBTQ kid in New Mexico is born perfect,” Candelaira said. “I also want to thank the victims of conversion ‘therapy’ who came forward to support this bill. Their stories did not fall on deaf ears. They turned their suffering into a force for good, and because of them, and for them, we have made history.”
These protections were passed largely thanks to the work of Sen. Candelaria. We need LGBTQ legislators to fight for protections for LGBTQ youth, workers and their families.