The discredited practice of conversion therapy for LGBTQ children is now banned in Utah, making it the 19th state and one of the most conservative to prohibit it. Conversion therapy is a practice used to try to change sexual orientation or gender identity, and many people who have been through it say it deepened feelings of depression and increased thoughts of suicide. The change in Utah comes after the state hammered out a regulatory rule that had the support of the influential Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Leaders got on board with it after supporters included assurances that church leaders and members who are therapists would be allowed to provide spiritual counseling for parishioners or families, reports the AP.
The original sponsor of the proposal, GOP Utah Rep. Craig Hall, applauded the rule going into effect, saying in a statement that "this measure will truly save lives." Still, the ban has drawn pushback in Utah. Opponents argued it would prevent parents from getting help for children with "unwanted" gay feelings and keep therapists from even talking about sexuality with their kids. The rule could become an issue during the 2020 legislative session. Supporters navigated a winding path to passage and some dissent remains, but barring it in Utah could give a boost to similar efforts in other right-leaning states, said Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Virginia is considering a ban, and the issue could also come up in this year in Texas and Kentucky, he said. (Also in Utah this week: BYU lifted one very specific ban on same-sex couples.)