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Setting The Record Straight: Conversion Therapy

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

Let’s set the record straight:

I condemn Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) which is the medical term for “conversion therapy”, and have never supported the practice. Therapy should be patient centered, patient directed, and designed to empower, never to denigrate or coerce and never to do harm. SOCE has been shown to do harm with a three times the national average of suicide attempts. I have constantly stated my position in public, including in town hall meetings like the one on February 3, 2018 at Tuckahoe Public Library.

Because I opposed three pieces of legislation SB 245, SB 262 and SB 267 and despite my consistent public statements, political operatives have twisted my votes to imply support for this practice. This is what people hate about politics. Truth and accuracy matter.

So why did I vote against the bills? Because they were bills that sought to use code to solve a clinical issue. Virginia's code directs that the medical boards and the experts on them to regulate clinical issues using best clinical practices and standard of care as the guidelines for that oversight. Regulatory boards have the expertise that legislators do not and the process in place works better than legislation using political terms.

I condemn both the practice of SOCE and those bills, but I voted against the bills because I knew we already had a better and more appropriate way to deal with the bad practice.

In fact, I wrote and carried legislation opposing the practice of “conversion therapy” but directing the boards to write the definitions and regulations using appropriate clinical references, not political ones.

Latest update from the Department of Health Professions? It’s getting done exactly as I recommended. You can find the links to guidelines here.

It’s a shame that some of my opponent’s supporters are trying to misrepresent my position, but it seems to be becoming a pattern for them. I think it’s time to have respectful conversations. You can’t do that if you’re not truthful.

Everyone should be treated with dignity.

It’s important to be diligent and to check the facts.

I want leaders that do both.

That's another good reason to keep a clinician that is comfortable dealing with complicated issues, data and evidence in the Senate.

Keep the only doctor in the Senate in the Senate.


Colleges of medical experts like the American Psychiatric Association (see full list and links below), denounce Sexual Orientation Change Efforts, which is the medical term for the practice we are discussing. “Conversion therapy” is a political term and not defined in medical literature.

In Virginia, our clinical boards, including the Board of Medicine, are empowered by the Code of Virginia and operate separately from the legislative process. The boards are made up of clinicians practicing in each specialty who hold their peers accountable for patient care that is below the Standard of Care.

As a former member of the Board of Medicine, I know the process works to protect patients and hold clinicians accountable by restricting or revoking their license to practice.

Bottom line, I condemn SOCE and believe the clinicians on our boards are the appropriate experts to regulate clinical licenses.

Board References:

American Psychiatric Association

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

National Association of Social Workers


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