Michigan governor bars government funds for conversion therapy, calls for ban

Michigan State Capitol (Image by Jason Gillman from Pixabay)

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order on Monday banning the use of government funds for conversion therapy on minors.

The Democrat also called for the practice to be outlawed through two bills current in the state legislature, according to MLive.

“Conversion therapy is opposed by medical experts, is rooted in bigotry and it can have long-term harmful effects,” Whitmer said.

Mlive reported the order goes into effect immediately. It bars the use of state or federal money for conversion therapy on kids, including Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, child welfare services and juvenile justice programs.

Earlier in June, Gov. Tony Evers in neighboring Wisconsin issued a similar executive order.

Illinois banned “conversion therapy” in 2015.

Advocates celebrated the news.

“LGBTQ youth are beautiful the way that they are and deserve to be loved and respected — not subjected to the dangerous and abusive practice of conversion therapy. Thank you to Governor Whitmer for taking action to protect LGBTQ youth,” said Sam Brinton, vice president of advocacy and government affairs for The Trevor Project. “While there is still much work to do in the Great Lake State, this is an amazing step forward that will help save young LGBTQ lives in Michigan.”  

“No child in Michigan 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, when in fact, we are all born perfect,” said Erin Knott, executive director of Equality Michigan, who led the effort to secure the governor’s leadership on the issue. “Luckily, LGBTQ+ kids in Michigan have the support of Governor Whitmer, who is doing everything in her power to protect them from this dangerous and discredited pseudoscience.”

“Governor Whitmer is taking a critical step to protect LGBTQ minors across the state of Michigan. LGBTQ kids and their families are targeted by so-called therapists causing lifelong harm,” said Mathew Shurka, a conversion therapy survivor and chief strategist for Born Perfect. “This executive order demonstrates that our political offices have the power to protect our youth and it is their responsibility to do so. Thank you, Governor Whitmer.”

Born Perfect is also a co-plaintiff in a Kentucky court case involving conversion therapy.

According to The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 13% of LGBTQ youth reported being subjected to conversion therapy, with 83% reporting it occurred when they were under age 18. LGBTQ youth who were subjected to conversion therapy reported more than twice the rate of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who were not.

The Trevor Project also said it had supported 6,200 contacts in the state over the last year.