Del. Cardin proposes bill to stop 'gay conversion' therapy on children

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Del. Jon S. Cardin announced his intention to introduce a bill during the 2014 General Assembly session prohibiting licensed mental health professionals from practicing "gay conversion" on children.

Cardin said such therapies on children are designed to change their sexual orientation; a practice he stresses does harm to the child.

"The major medical and psychological organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association have recognized that being gay is not a disease or a choice," said Cardin, a Baltimore County Democrat running for attorney general, in a statement. "It is not something you can change with any therapy..."

Cardin said similar bills outlawing gay conversion therapy have been passed in California and New Jersey, with several states including Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and Washington, D.C. considering similar laws. 

Cardin added that his bill is limited to treatment of minors and in no way affects the ability of religious leaders or organizations from teaching or advising their congregants on issues of sexual orientation.

Advocates of banning gay conversion point out that gay youth are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide as their straight peers. Cardin said a San Francisco State University study of LGBT teens showed that teens that weren't accepted by their families were eight times more likely to attempt suicide than teens that were accepted by their families. 

Cardin's bill has the support of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Maryland along with bill co-sponsor Del. Anne Kaiser, a member of the LGBT Caucus. In the Maryland Senate, the bill will be cross filed by Sen. Richard Madaleno, a member of the Senate LGBT caucus.

The gay conversion bill is one of several high-profile legislation announcements Cardin has made in recent months. This includes an effort to criminalize revenge porn and reducing sexual assaults on college campuses.

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