The National Center for Lesbian Rights reports conservative Utah has become the 19th state to protect LGBTQ youth from the harmful practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ which seeks to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Utah’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing adopted statewide rules protecting queer minors from the dangerous approach sometimes known as ‘ex-gay’ therapy.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert directed the Division to develop the rules last year after proposed legislation to address the issue narrowly failed to pass the Utah Legislature.
In addition to the 19 states, the District of Columbia and more than 60 local municipalities have adopted similar protections.
Every leading medical and mental health organization in the United States, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, has rejected conversion therapy as ineffective and dangerous for minors.
“Utah’s emergence as the most conservative state to address this issue shows how rapidly attitudes toward LGBTQ youth are changing in every part of this country,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter.
Troy Williams, executive director of EQUALITY UTAH issued a statement that read in part: “Every reputable science-based organization in the country recognizes that conversion therapy is a dangerous fraud. It exacerbates depression, anxiety, and suicide ideation. We are grateful to Governor Herbert and the Board of Psychologists for acting swiftly on behalf of LGBTQ youth.”
Studies show LGBTQ youth who are subjected to conversion therapy are more than twice as likely to experience depression, and nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide.