Contact: Wayne Besen, Truth Wins Out

If Regulation Works So Well, Why Is Maryland a World Center of ‘Ex-Gay’ Therapy?

CHICAGO – Truth Wins Out expressed great disappointment today after Delegate Jon S. Cardin hinted that he might pull a bill that he introduced, which would have prohibited “ex-gay” therapy from being Cardinpracticed on minors. This potential defeat was couched in the terms of victory, with Cardin and Equality Maryland announcing that they would pursue “a regulatory approach to combat the problem.”

“If regulation works so well, then why is Maryland a world center for ‘ex-gay’ therapy?” asked Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. “The proper approach is pursuing both legislative and regulatory responses, to ensure that LGBT youth aren’t victimized by practitioners of junk science. Our job is to stand up for vulnerable children, not protect special interests in the mental health field that don’t want to be regulated. We strongly urge Delegate Cardin to stand by his bill and fight to pass it, as they did in California and New Jersey.”

In a press release today, Del. Cardin wrote that he “reached out to several organizations with expertise in regulatory protections for patients” and concluded, “If we can do this without legislation, I am all about it,” said Cardin. “I am not interested in the glory. I’m interested in solving problems.”

“Cardin is a respected ally who has done incredible work on the LGBT community’s behalf, but he should be leery of advice from an industry that is allergic to any form of proper regulation,” said TWO’s Besen. “The mental health industry has long condemned conversion therapy, but has done little to stop the practice. They have failed the LGBT population and this is why Cardin’s legislation was desperately needed in the first place.”

Truth Wins Out is particularly concerned about the regulatory approach endorsed by our friends at Equality Maryland, the Maryland Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and the Trevor Project. According to today’s press release: “The state health occupation boards have the ability to sanction licensed therapists who engage in ‘conversion’ or ‘reparative’ therapy. Minors or anyone advocating on their behalf can file a complaint with a board, triggering a vigorous investigation. If the investigation uncovers proof that a licensed health care professional violated the standard of care, then the board has an array of regulatory tools to keep this from happening again.”

“The obvious problem with this backward approach is that it focuses on assisting victims after the psychological damage has occurred,” said TWO’s Besen. “Our primary goal should be to prevent psychological trauma for LGBT youth, not help them pick up the pieces once their lives have been shattered. Furthermore, we know from experience, that for every parent or LGBT youth that files a complaint, many more will never take action and suffer in silence. There is also the issue of parents who are on the side of the reparative therapist and believe they are helping their child by administering tough love. Clearly, the wise course of action is to pass a bill prohibiting ‘ex-gay’ therapy, so we can keep LGBT youth out of the clutches of junk science practitioners.”

Maryland has emerged as a world center for the barbaric and abusive practice of “ex-gay” therapy. The high profile International Healing Foundation and Voice of the Voiceless are based in Bowie Maryland. This group uses bizarre techniques and outmoded therapy models to unsuccessfully attempt to turn LGBT people straight. Apparently, those “regulating” medical and mental health providers in Maryland have let the quackery of IHF and other “ex-gay” practitioners conveniently fall through the cracks. To think that this troubling situation will somehow change without legislation is wishful thinking and a bad idea.

Every respected medical and mental health association states that “ex-gay” (aka reparative or conversion) therapy, doesn’t work and can be harmful. This includes the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Medical Association. There is also a wealth of science that shows a biological basis for sexual orientation, which can be viewed at

Truth Wins Out (TWO) is a non-profit organization that works to demolish the very foundation of anti-gay prejudice. Our philosophy is simple: We attack the underpinnings of homophobia by debunking harmful lies, discrediting hateful myths, and countering anti-gay organizations. By chipping away at the underlying ignorance that fuels anti-LGBT attitudes, we can ultimately win our fight for fairness and achieve full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people worldwide.