By Shira Schoenberg
Massachusetts therapists can no longer use a type of therapy that tries to alter a teenager's sexual orientation.
Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday signed into law a bill banning licensed health care professionals from providing conversion therapy to anyone under 18.
Conversion therapy tries to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. It can be done through talk or through a practice where a therapist causes pain when someone has a sexual reaction to someone of the same sex.
Most professional medical organizations have said conversion therapy is not a legitimate form of medical treatment.
Supporters of the ban say conversion therapy has the potential to harm vulnerable young people who are gay or are dealing with issues related to their sexual identity, by shaming them and potentially driving them to depression or drug use.
The ban does not address conversion therapy performed on adults, nor does it apply to pastoral counseling by a religious leader.
Fifteen states and Washington, D.C., have already banned conversion therapy, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
Massachusetts House votes to ban conversion therapy for minors
Conversion therapy tries to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
Baker, a Republican, signed the bill despite concerns by Republicans in the state Senate over whether the ban infringed on parents' rights to control their children or on therapists' free speech rights.
Massachusetts Senate passes conversion therapy ban, over Republicans' constitutional concerns
Five of six Senate Republicans voted "present" after a failed vote to ask the SJC for a legal opinion on the bill.
(c)2019 The Republican, Springfield, Mass.