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Gov. Whitmer Signs Executive Directive Prohibiting use of MDHHS-Administered Funds for the Practice of Conversion Therapy on Minors

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Gov. Whitmer Signs Executive Directive Prohibiting use of MDHHS-Administered Funds for the Practice of Conversion Therapy on Minors

Today Governor Whitmer signed Executive Directive 2021-3 requiring MDHHS to take actions necessary to prohibit the use of state and federal funds for the harmful practice of conversion therapy on minors. The directive also requires departments and agencies to explore what further actions can be taken to protect minors from this harmful practice.

The governor was joined by Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist, medical and psychological professionals, as well as representatives from the Ruth Ellis Center and Equality Michigan to discuss the negative impacts of conversion therapy on LGBTQ+ youth and the necessity of ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent solely on evidence-based medical and mental health services. Governor Whitmer also called on the legislature to codify a ban on conversion therapy.

“Since day one, I have made it clear that hate has no home in Michigan,” said Governor Whitmer. “My administration is committed to addressing the systemic barriers faced by young LGBTQ+ Michiganders so that our state is a place where they are able to reach their full potential. The actions we take today will serve as a starting point in protecting our LGBTQ+ youth from the damaging practice of conversion therapy and in ensuring that Michigan is a reflection of true inclusion.”

Conversion therapy, also known as “reparative therapy” refers to any intervention that attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It rests on the false premise that an LGBTQ+ individual’s identity is pathological and must be “repaired” or “fixed.” The nation’s leading medical and mental health organizations oppose the practice of conversion therapy on minors. Not only is conversion therapy ineffectual, it can lead to significant long-term harm, including anxiety, depression, internalized homophobia, self-blame, and higher risk of suicide. LGBTQ+ youth, who may be unable to refuse or resist conversion therapy sought by their parents or guardians, are particularly vulnerable to these harms.

“Governor Whitmer’s directive affirms our commitment to support the health, safety, and welfare of Michigan’s LGBTQ+ youth. Every step we take towards equality will impact Michiganders for generations to come, and we are committed to walking on the right side of history,” said Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist. “Members of the LGBTQ+ community face systemic barriers and are often further marginalized by this harmful practice. Our administration is committed to addressing these barriers and making Michigan a reflection of true equality. Governor Whitmer and I will continue to work towards ensuring that hate has no home in Michigan.”

“No child should be subjected to the abusive practice of so-called conversion therapy, which sends the harmful message that there is something wrong with who you are,” said Equality Michigan Executive Director, Erin Knott. “Luckily, LGBTQ+ kids in Michigan have the support of Governor Whitmer who is doing everything in her power to protect them from this dangerous, fraudulent practice that should never be subsidized with taxpayer dollars. Equality Michigan calls upon the legislature to immediately pass legislation prohibiting mental health providers from subjecting anymore LGBTQ+ kids in Michigan to this discredited practice.”

“The Ruth Ellis Center staff and board applaud and celebrate the courage and wisdom of Governor Whitmer in moving Michigan forward in national leadership to ban harmful and discredited practices aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Jerry Peterson, Executive Director, Ruth Ellis Center. “All efforts to shame a child and try to force them to deny their full and true selves are harmful and traumatizing. LGBTQ+ children and youth deserve the protection of the State of Michigan from such harms.”

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“As a pediatrician who works with LGBTQ+ adolescents, I have seen how patients thrive when they are able to be themselves and when their identities are supported,” said Dr. Maureen Connolly, a pediatrician in Detroit who specializes in adolescent medicine and caring for the LGBTQ+ community. “Conversion therapy is the exact opposite of what young people need and has been shown to have long-lasting negative effects including depression, self-harm, and decreased self-esteem. I am grateful for this executive action and I know it will have a positive impact on the health of young people across Michigan.”

“Today, Governor Whitmer sends a powerful message of care and appreciation that our LGBTQ+ and nonbinary citizens of all ages and races are precious and valued, that such harmful, discredited practices will not be tolerated in the state that I grew up in,” said Amorie Robinson, Ph.D., L.P. “Governor Whitmer joins a host of others who understand the unique needs, challenges, and vulnerabilities of LGBTQ+ youth and the potential psychological damage when family members, faith institutions, and mental health providers try to force identities upon children. Most health professions agree that treating something that is not a disorder is unethical and that youth should be supported in their right to explore, define, and articulate their own identity without having their identity or exploration be suppressed. Today, the youth in Michigan can be assured that they have protections, support, and services that affirm who they are including those who are exploring who they are.”

To view Executive Directive 2021-3 click the link below:
• ED 2021-03 Conversion Therapy (final signed).pdf

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