Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation on Monday making the use of so-called LGBTQ conversion therapy illegal on minors, with the cCommonwealth becoming the 20th state and first state in the South to ban the discredited, dangerous practice.
"At the Trevor Project, we hear from LGBTQ youth in crisis every day and we know that those who are subjected to conversion therapy are more than twice as likely to attempt suicide," Sam Brinton, head of advocacy and government affairs for the group, said in a statement. "This bold action will send a message to all LGBTQ young people in the great Commonwealth of Virginia that they are loved and deserve support."
The ban on conversion therapy, which attempts to alter the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ people, goes into effect July 1. Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and 19 states now ban the practice on minors, along with numerous cities and counties.
"The passage of this law protecting minors from ‘conversion therapy’ in Virginia is a historic breakthrough for LGBTQ Southerners," Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said in a statement. "The passage of this law protecting minors from ‘conversion therapy’ in Virginia is a historic breakthrough for LGBTQ Southerners. It’s a clear signal of the rapidly growing public support for LGBTQ equality in the South and sends a salient message: LGBTQ youth must be treated with respect, love, and support."
Since flipping its legislature blue last year, and with a Democratic governor, Virginia has moved forward with several pieces of progressive legislation. The state is poised to become the first state in the South to ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination in employment, housing, and public accomodations.
The conversion therapy ban's chief patron (sponsor) in the House of Delegates was Del. Patrick A. Hope, and Del. Danica Roem, the House's first transgender member, was a chief co-patron. She has often called for such a ban.