We have even more good news in the fight against conversion therapy.
According to the Washington Blade, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill this past Monday that will ban conversion therapy for minors in the state. The bill will thus take effect within the state on July 1. Anyone caught in violation of this law will be grounds for disciplinary action by state health regulators. This signing makes Virginia the first Southern state to ban not only forced conversion therapy but all conversion therapy for minors. In addition, Virginia joins the District of Columbia and 19 other states with similar laws in place.
“This issue is personal for me, as a pediatric neurologist who has cared for thousands of children,” said Northam in a statement. “Conversion therapy is not only based in discriminatory junk-science, it is dangerous and causes lasting harm to our youth. No one should be made to feel wrong for who they are — especially not a child. I’m proud to sign this ban into law.”
Good, it is high time we end the practice of conversion therapy and protect our LGBTQ youth in Virginia. https://t.co/kQ0oKt4hLu
— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) February 4, 2020
But, of course, this bill didn’t reach Gov. Northam’s desk if not for the work of state lawmakers. After this past November’s elections, Democrats regained control of Virginia’s General Assembly for the first time in two decades. Lawmakers within the General Assembly then voted on the bill, introduced by Del. Patrick Hope of Arlington County, earlier this year. The bill passed the state’s House 66 to 27. The lawmakers in favor of the bill included every Democrat and 11 Republicans. Meanwhile, seven Republicans chose to abstain. The Senate then passed the bill with a vote of 22 to 18. In that case, all Democrats and one Republican (Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel) supported the bill.
But that’s not all that Virginia is currently doing for its LGBTQ citizens. The General Assembly has also recently voted on the Virginia Values Act, which adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s nondiscrimination law. Northam is expected to sign that bill within the next few weeks.