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With Northam's Signature, Virginia Joins List of States Banning Conversion Therapy

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Governor Ralph Northam has signed a bill making it illegal to practice so-called "conversion therapy” on children in Virginia.

The practice of conversion therapy has been controversial for years, but efforts to make it illegal in Virginia have gone nowhere, until now. This week, Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill prohibiting the practice of trying to convert gay children into straight children — grounds for disciplinary action by the Department of Health Professions. 

“It doesn’t work. It puts people in very uncomfortable awkward positions," Northam said following a Tuesday news conference. "So it’s something that we’ve been working on for years, and I’m glad there’s finally a bill that got through the Senate and the House. I was extremely pleased to sign it yesterday and put conversation therapy to an end in Virginia for minors.”

Delegate Patrick Hope is a Democrat from Arlington, and has introduced this bill every year for the last seven years. It went nowhere when Republicans were in power. But now that Democrats are in power, it’s about to become law.

“Kids who are exposed to it are suicidal," Hope said.  "They suffer from anxiety and depression, and it’s this false narrative that someone who is gay there’s something wrong with them, and there’s nothing wrong someone who is gay.”

Now that the governor has signed the bill, it’ll become law on July 1.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

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