Utah became the 19th state to ban LGBTQ conversion therapy, the practice, aimed at changing a patient’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) does not recognize the practice of conversion therapy and considers it unethical.
Republican Gov. Gary Herbert proposed this new rule to ban conversion therapy on minors in November 2019 by stating that “I have learned much through this process. The stories of youth who have endured these so-called therapies are heart rending, and I’m grateful that we have found a way forward that will ban conversion therapy forever in our state.” The Governor’s concerns of the abuse that can be inflicted on vulnerable youth is a practice that many have rejected, including medical professionals, child welfare experts, and many other stakeholders.
The Washington Post reported that the American Psychological Association stated that “[conversion therapy] is not based in science and is harmful to mental health.” LGBTQ young people are already significantly more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers and have higher rates of depression and anxiety. Conversion therapy is also an issue that surfaces in the placement of some children and youth in foster care. Organizations that work on suicide prevention like the Trevor Project commended Utah by stating that: “This is historic progress and further proof that protecting youth from this danger transcends regional or political divides.”
Utah joins eighteen other states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington), and the District of Columbia in banning conversion therapy of minor. Virginia, Texas, and Kentucky are the next states that are set to consider a bam this year.