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Bill Seeks Ban on Conversion Therapy for Minors

Colorado lawmakers may ban a practice, widely considered harmful to minors, that seeks to change a personís sexual orientation or suppress gender identity. (Pixabay)
Colorado lawmakers may ban a practice, widely considered harmful to minors, that seeks to change a personís sexual orientation or suppress gender identity. (Pixabay)
February 27, 2017

DENVER – Colorado lawmakers will consider a bill this week that would prohibit mental-health professionals licensed in Colorado from conducting so-called "conversion" or "reparative" therapy, a practice aimed at changing a person's sexual orientation or suppressing gender identity, with minors.

Brad Allen, development coordinator for the group Urban Peak, which serves a large population of homeless LGBT youths, says the new law would help young people receive mental-health care that is ethical and affirming.

"Reparative therapy has been discredited repeatedly by every major psychological organization in the country," said Allen. "What this does is, it allows us to have on the books in Colorado that there will be no reparative therapy, by any licensed therapist in the state, for minors."

Some opponents of HB17-1156 claim the law would impact a family's ability to choose treatment.

Allen, a former Anglican pastor, said clergy still could offer counseling, even if they are licensed by the state, and are exempt under Colorado law as long as they are not presenting themselves as a state licensee during sessions.

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association dropped homosexuality from its classification as a mental disorder. However, Allen noted that many young Coloradans continue to be subjected to efforts to change their sexual orientation. He said when therapists project a belief that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is a condition that should be fixed, it can lead to internalized shame and self-loathing.

"There's plenty of studies that correlate that belief with increased depression, substance abuse, anxiety disorders - even PTSD, and some of those things that are associated with that belief, when put into a counseling office," he added.

According to a report by the Colorado Health Institute, nearly half of young LGBT Coloradans have considered suicide, compared with slightly more than 10 percent of their straight peers.

The measure, introduced by Rep. Paul Rosenthal, D-Denver and Arapahoe counties, is scheduled to be heard on Tuesday in the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO