Numerous studies have shown that conversion therapy can harm the mental health and well-being of people who are exposed to it. However, a Monday report is the first to quantify its economic impact.
According to a peer-reviewed study published in JAMA Pediatrics, efforts to change LGBTQ people's sexual orientations and gender identities costs the U.S. $9.23 billion annually. Casey Pick is a senior fellow in advocacy and government affairs at The Trevor Project. This research was conducted in partnership with Cytel, a multinational clinical trial organisation. Pick said that the estimate is "conservative."
Pick stated that Pick knew there was a financial element to the problem. We hope policymakers and others will be able to examine what this cost is to highlight how detrimental and harmful this practice really can be to society.
Pick stated that it took Pick over a year to come up with the estimate. The Trevor Project is a national suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization. They worked with an economist team to create a model that would assess both the costs of conversion therapy as well as the ongoing costs for mental health. This includes talk therapy, shock treatment, and water torture.
The Trevor Project published research in 2019 that found that LGBTQ youth who were subjected to conversion therapy were more likely than other queer young people to attempt suicide. Pick stated that happier, healthier people are less likely to need treatment, and fewer trips to the emergency department in the case of suicide attempts.
She said, "They have less anxiety and depression, and therefore require less treatment."
Although the figure of $9.23 billion attempts to account for intangible costs such as lost productivity due to survivors' mental health problems, many of these costs are direct. According to the Trevor Project, $650 million annually is spent on conversion therapy. Also known as "reparative therapy" and "ex-gaytherapy", it is estimated that $650 million of this money is used each year.
According to the LGBTQ think tank Movement Advancement Project and Pick, 25 states have banned conversion therapy for minors. Pick stated that The Trevor Project hopes that the new report will help fuel their long-term efforts for a federal ban.
The Prohibition on Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act is supported by the nonprofit organization. This bill would prohibit the use of taxpayer funds under Medicaid to pay for a practice almost every major U.S. medical association has condemned. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) in 2019. It has not passed either the House nor the Senate. Amit Paley is the executive director and CEO of The Trevor Project.
Paley stated in a statement that "this alarming study shows that subjecting LGBTQ youth to conversion therapy continues have deep and detrimental cost from both a economic and humanistic standpoint." The Trevor Project calls on policymakers to ensure that LGBTQ youth are not exposed to the dangers of so-called "therapy" and to expand access to LGBTQ affirming therapy to help young people accept themselves and foster positive health outcomes.
Conversion therapy opponents often cite religious objections. They claim that legislation to ban the practice would restrict the freedom of speech of leaders of other faiths who are opposed to LGBTQ rights, and limit the parental right to decide medical treatment for their children.
According to a UCLA Williams Institute report, nearly 700,000.0_ LGBTQ adults had been subjected at one time or another to conversion therapy. About half of these were teens at the time. The institute estimates that in 2019, 10,000 additional teens were prevented from receiving the treatment by state bans.
Pick stated that she hopes The Trevor Project's research will convince U.S. lawmakers to ban conversion therapy and highlight the dangers of depriving LGBTQ youths of appropriate health care. According to the Human Rights Campaign and Texas Governor. Greg Abbott recently declared that gender-affirming care for minors is "child abuse."
Pick stated, "The evidence we present here about the enormous benefit to society of affirming health care sends out a powerful message as well as we defend against those who would rather construct new barriers."
Pick lays out the economic consequences of conversion therapy and hopes that politicians will listen to young people across the country and better understand their "painful and negative experiences."
She stated that she believes that all politicians can be influenced to understand the harms caused by these practices. If they are willing to take the time to investigate it and see the stories behind the dollars, cents and dollars that we're talking about here, they can.