A US congresswoman has announced her intention to try to protect gay and lesbian minors from misguided and dangerous efforts to “cure” them.

On Wednesday, in Washington DC, Congresswoman Jackie Speier announced the introduction of the Stop Harming Our Kids (SHOK) resolution.

The resolution calls on US states to protect LGBT youth from dangerous and discredited practices by mental health professionals who claim to be able to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered is not a disease to be cured or a mental illness that requires treatment. Any effort to change sexual orientation is not medicine, it’s quackery, and we should not be supporting it with taxpayer dollars,” said Speier.

The SHOK resolution is the first federal effort to end these harmful and discredited sexual orientation change efforts.

Speier added that she was also investigating if tax-payer dollars have been spent on the practice of conversion therapy with minors.

“Gay conversion has become a multimillion dollar industry. So called therapists around the country prey on fearful parents who are willing to pay hundreds of dollars to make their children conform to heterosexual norms and expectations,” said Speier.

LGBT groups have praised the congresswoman’s efforts and welcomed the resolution.

Wayne Besen, executive director of the lobby group against conversion therapy Truth Wins Out, said: “One of society’s most important functions is to protect children from the exploitation and abuse of predators. It is critical that unethical charlatans be held accountable for malice in the guise of medicine that often exacts psychological wreckage on young clients and their families.”

In September, California became the first state in the US to ban ‘therapies’ aimed at changing the sexuality of gay minors. That law makes “reparative” or “conversion therapy” by psychiatrists, psychologists or churches illegal when it comes to those under the age of 18.

The practice is also under fire in the courts. On Tuesday, a lawsuit was filed in New Jersey accusing Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) of consumer fraud for falsely claiming that it can cure clients of being gay.

Efforts to change sexual orientation or gender expression have been widely discredited, and have also been proven harmful to children and adults. Major medical and mental health organisations around the world have denounced the practice, including the World Health Organisation.

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