As Governor Signs Statewide Law, Virginia Becomes First in the South to Protect Minors from Anti-LGBTQ ‘Conversion Therapy’


March 3, 2020

Adam Polaski | 610.306.7956 |

As Governor Signs Statewide Law, Virginia Becomes First in the South to Protect Minors from Anti-LGBTQ ‘Conversion Therapy’

Passage of law signals growing support and respect for LGBTQ people in Southern states and fuels momentum in North Carolina, Kentucky, and beyond

RICHMOND – This week Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed a statewide law protecting young people from “conversion therapy,” the dangerous and discredited anti-LGBTQ practice of licensed mental health professionals trying to shame LGBTQ youth into changing their sexual orientation or gender identity. The law takes effect on July 1.

Virginia is now the first state in the South to enact legislation protecting LGBTQ minors from ‘conversion therapy.’ In the United States, 20 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico now prohibit ‘conversion therapy.’ We applaud the efforts of many advocates in Virginia who pushed for the legislation, including our partners at Equality Virginia, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Born Perfect, and the Trevor Project. 

Today Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, celebrated the vote:

The passage of this law protecting minors from ‘conversion therapy’ in Virginia is a historic breakthrough for LGBTQ Southerners. It’s a clear signal of the rapidly growing public support for LGBTQ equality in the South and sends a salient message: LGBTQ youth must be treated with respect, love, and support. 

This year Virginia has paved the way forward for LGBTQ Southerners, and momentum is building across the South. Last summer Gov. Roy Cooper made North Carolina the first state to take any statewide action on the issue with an executive order prohibiting public funding for conversion therapy, and in Kentucky, Republicans and Democrats have together sponsored legislation prohibiting the practice. This progress illustrates a sea change in the South: Communities are coming together, opening their hearts and minds, and building toward states where every LGBTQ person can thrive. 

Adam Trimmer, a survivor of conversion therapy who lives in Virginia and the Virginia Ambassador for Born Perfect, added:

I endured anti-LGBTQ conversion therapy, and it was devastating – the only effect it had was a negative one, robbing me of years of my life and requiring so much time, energy, and therapy to pick up the pieces. If there is one thing I’ve stood behind in this movement, it is that no one should ever have to go through therapy because of therapy.   Because of this law, this no longer has to be a reality for the next generation. Thank you to the lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who passed this legislation, to the advocates who never stopped pushing, and to the strong, resilient survivors who shared their stories and welcomed Virginians into their lives. This is a historic affirmation of LGBTQ dignity and equality, the first in the South to protect our youth from this dangerous and discredited practice.

This year lawmakers in Virginia have also advanced legislation to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations – and a bill to ensure that transgender people are fully protected from discrimination in healthcare settings.

# # #

Based in Asheville, NC, the Campaign for Southern Equality works for full LGBTQ equality across the South. Our work is rooted in commitments to equity in race, gender and class.