Five State Boards Have Adopted New Policies Making Clear That Conversion Therapy on LGBTQ+ Minors is Harmful and Unprofessional (May 6, 2024)

As of May 2, 2024, five relevant State Boards have taken action to protect Pennsylvania youth, warning that licensees who engage in conversion therapy may be subject to administrative discipline. All five State Boards voted to adopt new policies condemning the discredited, pseudoscientific practice of conversion therapy in the Commonwealth. It was also announced that the state board of Nursing joined the Medicine, Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Professional Counselors, Psychology and Osteopathic Medicine who all voted recently to adopt new Statements of Policy (SOP) that oppose the use of conversion therapy on minors in Pennsylvania.

The new policies notify licensees that all five Boards consider the use of conversion therapy to be unprofessional, harmful conduct that may subject any licensee engaging in it to administrative discipline.

Sometimes referred to as reparative therapy, sexuality counseling, or sexual orientation/gender identity change efforts, conversion therapy refers to any practice that seeks or purports to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Trevor Project – a national organization devoted to ending suicide among LGBTQ+ young people – along with the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Association of Social Workers and the Pennsylvania Psychology Association told State Boards earlier this year that conversion therapy on minors remains an issue in the Commonwealth despite an August 2022 Executive Order from former Governor Tom Wolf protecting Pennsylvanians from the invalidated practice.

Among the numerous national and global health associations that strongly oppose conversion therapy due to its lack of scientific evidence and its heightened risk of causing harm to minors are the following:
American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Nursing
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists
American College of Physicians
American Medical Association
American Psychiatric Association
American Psychoanalytic Association
American Psychological Association
Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies
National Association of Social Workers
Pan American Health Organization
World Medical Association
World Psychiatric Association

The new SOPs will be effective upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

Anyone can file a complaint against a licensed professional engaging in unprofessional or harmful conduct like conversion therapy via the Department of State website.