Prohibition Legislation Supported by 71 Percent of New Mexicans Polled
Santa Fe, NM – January 19, 2017 – Joined by supporters at the State Capitol today, Equality New Mexico, Legislators, clergy members, mental health professionals and survivors of conversion therapy spoke about the important work that still needs to be done to ensure equality, safety and mental health for the LGBTQ community and for all New Mexicans.
Speakers expressed the pressing need to prohibit so-called conversion therapy practices—harmful practices administered to change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The Protect NM Kids Act, legislation sponsored by Senator Jacob Candelaria (D-Bernalillo) and Representative G. Andres Romero (D-Bernalillo), was introduced this week and would prohibit the practice of conversion therapy by licensed mental health providers with minors under age 18, increasing the well being and safety of LGBTQ New Mexicans.
“As a survivor, I can attest to the psychological dangers of conversion therapy,” said Amber Royster, Executive Director for Equality New Mexico. “It is emotional and mental abuse, as it engrains the idea in young minds that they are less than and that they need to be changed from who they are--the devastation of which can lead to long-term mental struggles and even suicide. Our youth deserve to be protected from this type of trauma, and they deserve the opportunity to grow up in a supportive and loving society. New Mexico can do better for our youth, and we must.”
The practice of conversion therapy is harmful to recipients, sometimes even fatal. Its teachings that a failure to overcome sexual orientation or gender identity is a personal one, and that homosexuality is a disorder that can be cured, have severe psychological effects. So-called conversion therapy has been rejected by every leading medical and mental health association in the nation, due to long-standing negative effects, dangers to an individual’s mental health, lack of success, and harm to an individual’s well being. Additionally, according to a recent Center for Civic Policy Poll, 71 percent of New Mexicans support prohibiting conversion therapy.
“There are many problems with conversion therapy—one of which being that it tells kids there is something wrong with them that needs to be cured,” said Senator Candelaria. “There is nothing to cure or repair. LGBTQ youth are not broken or sick; they are born perfect and are a fundamental part of the future of New Mexico. Like every child in this state, they deserve our protection. I urge my fellow lawmakers to take a stand to protect their future."
"As an educator, I am deeply concerned with the mental health and emotional wellbeing of New Mexico children and youth,” added Rep. Romero. “So-called conversion therapy uses rejection, shame, verbal abuse, psychological abuse, and even aversion techniques like electric shock to attempt to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. Let's protect New Mexico kids from this trauma, and end the abusive practice of conversion therapy in our Land of Enchantment."
"This bill reflects the consensus of the medical community that attempts to change a person's sexual orientation and gender identity are ineffective, harmful, and unethical,” said Shannon Minter, Legal Director of National Center for Lesbian Rights, adding the organization’s support for the Protect NM Kids Act. “We applaud the New Mexico Legislature for taking steps to protect and educate consumers and to ensure that state-licensed mental health professionals are providing safe and competent care."
About EQNM: Equality New Mexico is the state’s oldest and largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, and is committed to uplifting the voices and leadership of our community in creating a reality of equity, full access, and sustainable wellness for LGBTQ New Mexicans. Visit us online at www.eqnm.org.