New study reveals the 'deep and detrimental costs' of LGBTQ+ conversion therapy

New study reveals the 'deep and detrimental costs' of LGBTQ+ conversion therapy

The mental and physical health effects of harmful “conversion therapy” have long been clear and established. Now we also know of severe financial repercussions stemming from this debunked practice, a first-of-its-kind, peer-reviewed study says.

The research, conducted by LGBTQ youth suicide prevention organization Trevor Project and health economists with multinational research organization Cytel, finds so-called conversion therapy has cost upward of $9 billion annually. This includes the cost of the debunked practice itself and its associated harms.

“This alarming study illustrates that subjecting LGBTQ young people to conversion therapy continues to have deep and detrimental costs from both a humanistic and economic standpoint,” The Trevor Project Executive Director Amit Paley said.

The study, published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics on March 7, said the direct costs of the debunked practice itself are estimated at about $650 million annually.

“However, the study finds that the harms associated with the practice, such as substance abuse and negative mental health outcomes, including depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts, are significantly higher—an estimated $8.58 billion annually; bringing the total estimated cost of conversion therapy to $9.23 billion annually,” Trevor Project and Cytel researchers said.

Research from Trevor Project has previously found that nearly 40% of LGBT youth have “seriously considered” suicide, including more than half of trans or non-binary youth. Debunked conversion therapy only worsens this, with research finding that youth who have been subjected to this practice are more than twice as likely to attempt suicide as those who were not.

While some states have taken major steps to to clamp down on this harmful practice, like Virginia in 2020, other states are taking bigoted actions in GOP-led efforts. In Florida, Republican lawmakers made early 1960s-era singer and notorious bigot Anita Bryant proud by passing a Don’t Say Gay bill. In Texas, Greg Abbott and corrupt attorney general Ken Paxton are leading an inquisition against trans kids and their families.

Texas’ is explicitly a pro-death agenda, with the state removing LGBT youth suicide prevention resources from the Health Department website. NBC News reports it’s not the first time that happened either.

“In August, following criticism from one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s Republican primary challengers, Texas officials removed a webpage titled ‘gender identity and sexual orientation’ and a page devoted to Texas Youth Connection, a program run by the Department of Family and Protective Services, which included a link to The Trevor Project.” Believe officials by not just their words, but also their actions.

“The mental health risks of conversion therapy have long been suspected, but this scientific research quantifies, for the first time, the staggering cost of this therapy in financial terms,” said Dr. Anna Forsythe, the study’s principal scientist. Casey Pick, Trevor Project Senior Fellow for Advocacy & Government Affairs, said “we must ensure that taxpayers’ dollars are never again spent on this dangerous and discredited practice and that we are instead investing in LGBTQ-inclusive health and education programs to uplift the well-being of LGBTQ youth.”

We should also remember the immediate actions we can take in our own lives to be better allies to LGBT people. “If you want to support LGBTQ+ folks in your life, consider reading up on how to use gender-neutral pronouns and some starting points on how to show up for trans friends and family members,” Daily Kos’ Marissa Higgins wrote last year. Click here for the full Trevor Project and Cytel study.

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