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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | June 13, 2007

The The National Center For Lesbian Rights Applauds New Anti-Discrimination Policy By American Academy Of Physician Assistants

Professional Group Opposes Harmful Anti-Gay Practices


(San Francisco, CA, June 13, 2007) — The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) applauds the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) House of Delegates and the Student Academy of the American Academy for Physician Assistants (SAAAPA) Assembly of Representatives for adopting an anti-discrimination policy opposing harmful attempts to "cure" a patient's sexual orientation.

The passage of this policy helps patients like J.B., an NCLR client who was targeted by this damaging behavior by a physician's assistant in March, 2005. During a routine medical appointment, a physician's assistant gave J.B., a lesbian, a packet of anti-gay propaganda that referred to lesbian and gay people as "sinful" and urged J.B. to exercise her "moral choice" and change her sexual orientation. J.B. was upset and offended by this unsolicited material, which destroyed the trust she had placed in her health care providers. Although J.B. filed formal complaints, at that time there were no formal policies prohibiting such practices.

"A patient does not and should not have to tolerate a medical provider judging or condemning their sexual orientation," said NCLR Staff Attorney Shelbi Day, who assisted J.B. in filing a complaint. "Steps like the one taken by the AAPA help protect the right for all people to obtain medical care free from homophobia and discrimination."

"Attempts to change a patient's sexual orientation, often described as 'reparative therapy,' have been rejected as ineffective and damaging by every major health and mental health organization," said NCLR Staff Attorney Jody Marksamer. "There is no medical evidence to support such 'treatments,' and research documents the devastating effects of reparative therapy, including depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior."

The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychological Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Social Workers have condemned reparative therapy practices.

The new policy, which was adopted after hearings during the AAPA's annual meeting over Memorial Day weekend, states, in pertinent part, "The American Academy of Physician Assistants opposes any psychiatric treatment directed specifically at changing sexual orientation, such as 'conversion' or 'reparative' therapy."

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

media contacts:

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Jody Marksamer
Staff Attorney
National Center for Lesbian Rights
office: 415.392.6257 x308
jmarksamer@nclrights.org

 
Shelbi Day
Staff Attorney
National Center for Lesbian Rights
office: 727.490.4260
sday@nclrights.org

Erik Olvera
Director of Communications
National Center for Lesbian Rights
office: 415.392.6257 x324
EOlvera@NCLRights.org

Bethany Woolman
Communications Associate
National Center for Lesbian Rights
office: 415.392.6257 x305
BWoolman@NCLRights.org

 

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