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Proposed bill would ban conversion therapy for Utah’s kids

(Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah could be the 16th state to ban the practice of conversion therapy among mnors, if a bill introduced on Utah’s Capitol Hill goes through.

Supporters of the bill and members of the LGBTQ community say this kind of therapy isn’t just unethical, it doesn’t even work.

People who go through conversion therapy are all told different reasons why they’re gay.

“The [therapist] explained that the reason I had same-sex attraction was because of childhood trauma,” one speaker at the Capitol said.

“My therapist had said that I was gay because of poor parenting,” another said.

However, they all agree that the therapy they went through made things much worse.

“It was because of this therapy that I began to loathe myself.  I became more depressed than I had been before entering therapy, and I thought more about suicide more than ever,” another speaker said.

The bill would prohibit licensed therapists from practicing this kind of therapy on minors.  If the therapist is caught engaging in that practice, they would run the risk of losing their license.  Bill co-sponsor Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, says there is an exemption for clergy for constitutional reasons.

Hall says it’s hard to know how prevalent the practice is in Utah.  However, he believes it should never be done.

“It’s unethical, and has been deemed so by all of the nation’s leading medical and mental health organizations,” Hall said.

Hall says studies show kids who go through conversion therapy are twice as likely to have depression because of it, along with other risks.

“They’re three times more likely to attempt suicide,” he adds.