Deadline for original cosponsors: April 24
I am writing to ask that you join me as an original cosponsor of the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, the first federal bill aimed at preventing so-called “conversion therapy.” This bill rightfully establishes under the law that practices which falsely claim to change sexual orientation or gender identity are fraud.
Last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a report detailing the severe effects, including depression, self-harm, and suicide, of conversion therapy. So-called conversion therapists shouldn’t be able to sell their services by claiming that they are effective and harmless, especially when forced upon minors. The national community of professionals in education, social work, health, mental health, and counseling has recognized universally that conversion therapy is a wholly useless and risky pseudoscience. It’s time for federal law to recognize this as well.
The Therapeutic Fraud Act would classify for-profit conversion therapy as fraud under the Federal Trade Commission Act. It would also prohibit advertising that claims a conversion practitioner can successfully change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The fraud classification offers multiple avenues for enforcement. While the FTC may enforce the bill at its own discretion, private citizens may also bring civil lawsuits against therapists. Further, the bill provides enforcement authority to state attorneys general. It does not infringe upon First Amendment liberties or religious freedom, because it only applies to those who charge for these practices. At the same time, it’s an incredibly effective way to combat conversion therapy, because the vast majority of these providers are for-profit.
Five years ago, California enacted the first law to protect minors from conversion therapy. Since that time, six states have followed in California’s footsteps and passed similar laws. Several cities, including West Palm Beach and Cincinnati, are considering or have already put in place measures to prevent conversion therapy. Further, federal courts have begun ruling against conversion therapy practitioners, shutting down a group called JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing) for committing fraud just over a year ago.
I hope that you will join the growing tide of those working to end the harmless practice of conversion therapy by supporting the bicameral Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act. If you are interested in becoming a cosponsor or have any questions, please contact Elizabeth Arevalo in my office at Elizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ted W. Lieu
Member of Congress