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NASW-NC Supports North Carolina Ban on Conversion Therapy

Thursday, March 28, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Valerie Arendt
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Contact: Valerie Arendt, Executive Director,, 919-828-9650


RALEIGH, NC - The National Association of Social Workers North Carolina (NASW-NC) fully supports HB516/S426, the Mental Health Protection Act, which was introduced by North Carolina state legislators today.

The Mental Health Protection Act would protect Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) minors and disabled adults from the dangerous, discredited and discriminatory practice of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), also known as conversion therapy or reparative therapy which is used legally in North Carolina by mental health professionals as methods to attempt to change the sexual orientation of LGBTQ individuals to heterosexuality.

The National Association of Social Workers condemns the use of SOCE or so-called Reparative Therapies by any person identifying as a social worker or any agency that identifies as providing social work services. 


This legislation would prohibit licensed clinical social workers and other licensed behavioral health professionals from engaging in conversion therapy with a minor or an adult who has a disability and any practice of conversion therapy would be considered unprofessional conduct and the clinician’s license subject to discipline.

The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy at UCLA School of Law estimates nearly 350,000 youth have endured conversion therapy with another 77,000 at risk in states that have not acted to prohibit or restrict the practice. There is no empirical evidence that sexual orientation can be altered through therapy and research has found that attempts to do so may be harmful.

Social workers recognize the long-term detrimental consequences of conversion therapy, such as increased risk of depression, suicidal ideation, substance use, social withdrawal and self-loathing.

While the prevalence of conversion therapy by licensed clinicians in North Carolina is not known, it is happening. Valerie Arendt, Executive Director of NASW-NC said, “Because of the mental health damage being done by a practice that is not evidenced-based, many victims are unwilling to come forward to share their experiences. We do know of social workers who are victims of conversion therapy. They went into the profession of social work to help those who question their sexuality and gender identity and to prevent a practice that is against our professional code of ethics.”

If signed into law, North Carolina will join 15 other states and Washington D.C. in banning this abusive practice.

As a member of Born Perfect NC, a grassroots statewide campaign from Equality North Carolina and the Campaign for Southern Equality that is backed by a coalition of clergy, mental health organizations, faith groups, child welfare advocates and civil rights organizations, this legislation is a priority for NASW-NC.

Learn more about NASW-NC’s support of banning conversion therapy here:


The National Association of Social Workers North Carolina Chapter (NASW-NC) is a membership organization that promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW-NC also seeks to enhance the effective functioning and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities through its work and advocacy.


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