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American Osteopathic Association Adopts Resolution Against Harmful “Conversion Therapy”

Last Friday, the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) passed a resolution that prohibits the dangerous and discredited practice of “conversion therapy.” The passing of this resolution essentially prohibits any board-certified and practicing osteopathic physician in the United States from engaging in this harmful practice.

“Conversion therapy,” sometimes referred to as “sexual orientation change efforts” or “reparative therapy,” encompasses a range of dangerous practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. These practices are based on the false premise that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that needs to be cured — a theory that has been rejected for decades by every major medical and mental health organization.

There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior.

The dangerous practice is condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, and now the American Osteopathic Association. Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico and Rhode Island all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice.

This resolution applies to all osteopathic physicians licensed by the ​AOA and expressly classifies the practice of conversion therapy as an ethical violation that triggers professional disciplinary action.

HRC has partnered with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation ending conversion therapy. More information on the lies and dangers of efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity can be found here.