Bioethics Blogs

Stopping Pseudoscience & Protecting Children’s Lives: Fordham’s Dr. Celia B. Fisher on SAMHSA Expert Panel Behind White House Groundbreaking Conversion Therapy Report


A report released today is a major step in President Obama’s commitment to expand the number of states enacting “Leelah’s Law,” which would ban the use of conversion therapy to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of lesbian, gay and transgender children and youth.

Dr. Celia B. Fisher, Director of the Fordham University Center for Ethics Education and the Marie Ward Doty Endowed Chair and Professor of Psychology served on the expert consensus panel whose recommendations form the basis of this report.

Dr. Celia B. Fisher, Director of the Center for Ethics Education

Dr. Celia B. Fisher, Director of the Center for Ethics Education

“This groundbreaking report dispels widespread misconceptions about sexual and gender development and definitively concludes that treatments designed to change a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity do not work, are devastatingly harmful to ‘victims’ of this type of therapy, and should not be considered appropriate mental health services,” Fisher stated.

The expert panel and report was commissioned following  White House support for a bill that bans all therapies aimed at changing sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill known as “Leelah’s Law” was developed following the December 2014 suicide of Leelah Alcorn – a 17-year-old transgender woman, after her parents made her attend conversion therapy.

The panel was convened by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) earlier this year, and included prominent figures in LGBT human rights, policy, research, treatment, and advocacy, including Fisher.

After a careful review of all past and current scientific and clinical data, Fisher noted that the panel concluded that not only was there no scientific support for conversion therapy, but that such approaches and the pseudoscience upon which they were based did not meet the professional or ethical standards of the mental health professions.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.