Maryland Doesn't Want to Pray Away the Gay

It is now illegal for conversion therapy to occur in the state of Maryland! Yesterday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed into law SB1028 which is vital legislation that protects LGBTQ youth from the dangers of what is known as ‘conversion therapy’. Washington, Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, and Rhode Island are all states that have similar laws protecting LGBTQ youth from this type of abuse.

The Human Rights Campaign site states:

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 harmful practice is condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Medical Association.

A study conducted at UCLA School of Law estimates:

Approximately 700,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults have undergone conversion therapy at some point in their lives, including about 350,000 who received treatment as adolescents.

It also estimates 20,000 LGBTQ youth currently between the ages of 13 and 17 will receive conversion therapy from a licensed health care professional before they reach 18, and approximately 57,000 will be subjected to the controversial practice from a religious or spiritual adviser.

The new law goes into effect on October 1st and will prohibit licensed conversion therapy practitioners from offering treatments to minors. This does not, however, restrict therapy given in churches. Maryland’s commitment to LGBTQ youth is another great stride toward making this type of treatment to sexual orientation or gender identity outlawed across the U.S.—with much work still to be done. We see you, Red states!

Chad Griffin, HRC President says:

No child should ever be subjected to the abusive practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy. This dangerous and ​inhumane form of child abuse has no basis in science and is ​uniformly rejected by every major mental health and child welfare ​organization. Today, Maryland is a better place for countless young people thanks to the many advocates, allies, parents, and survivors who spoke out against this practice and urged their elected officials -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- to adopt these crucial protections.



A Maryland Elementary School Is Naming Itself After Gay Civil Rights Leader Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin is getting another school named after him.

While there is already a Bayard Rustin High School in Wester Chester, Pennsylvania (his home town), there’s always room for more schools named after the Civil Rights hero.

The Montgomery County Board of Education has recently announced that their new elementary school in Rockville, Maryland will be named after Rustin.

If you don’t know him, Bayard Rustin was a close advisor and friend of Martin Luther King. In fact, it was Rustin who largely organized and designed the 1963 March on Washington.

Rustin was so committed to the cause that he submitted to working behind the scenes in an attempt to prevent his sexuality from derailing the project. This was after Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. threatened to spread the lie that Rustin and King were gay lovers, and King then tried to distance himself from Rustin.

As reported by Bethesda Magazine, the Montgomery County Board of Education voted 6-2 to name their new school after the civil rights leader. They chose Rustin over other notable educators, slaves-turned-religious leaders, abolitionists, and civil rights leaders like Mary McLeod Bethune, Lillian Brown, Josiah Henson, and Emily Catherine Edmonson.

Of course, there are many who oppose naming an elementary school after Rustin and state that it will lead to uncomfortable conversations between parents and their children. That said, others have argued that Rustin was more than just a black, gay man, he was an activist and social leader.

"My husband and I are very passionate about this,” Mark Eckstein Bernardo, father of 6-year-old twins, told NewNowNext. “Not only because we are gay parents, but also because we have a first-grader who will be attending this brand new school this fall.”

Jamie Griffith, a Montgomery Blair High School student also praised the school name while testifying before the board:

"As a queer student, even in a progressive area, I was raised in a society that still attaches shame to my identity,” said Griffth, “A Bayard Rustin Elementary School is not only a well-deserved homage to a civil rights leader and hero, but a way to break stigma and give hope to future students who no longer have to feel trapped in the closet.”

Board member Jill Ortman-Fouse also shared that the school’s new name shows that “no matter what your background is, no matter who you love, you are a part of the [Montgomery County Public School] family.”

Bayard Rustin Elementary will open its doors in Rockville, Maryland this September.