Ohio Lawmaker Pushes for Conversion Therapy Ban for LGBT Youth
Sen. Charleta Tavarse (D-Columbus) said she wants Ohio to be the next state to pass a bill that would outlaw licensed therapists from using conversion therapy on LGBT youth, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
"If they are already questioning their sexuality, we don't want them to think there is something wrong with them that needs to be fixed," Tavarse said, according to the Dispatch. She also said conversion therapy is an issue that she and other Democratic lawmakers believe they need to push for, pointing out the high rates of suicide among members of the LGBT community.
Tavarse added that she isn't sure how often conversion therapy, a controversial and harmful therapy that some believe can turn gay people straight, is used in Ohio but even if even if it is rare, the bill is needed because, "We don't want to do any harm to a child," she said.
State Sen. Shannon Jones, R-Springboro, chairwoman of the Senate Medicaid, Health and Human Services Committee, said she hasn't thought about the therapy and its potential harms.
"I don't know anything about it," Jones said, according to the Dispatch.
Both California and New Jersey have passed similar measures.
Though conversion therapy is widely disregarded and is considered to be harmful, with the American Psychological Association passing a resolution in 2009 condemning the therapy, the Christian ministry group, the Liberty Counsel, challenged the laws in California and New Jersey. A federal appeals court upheld California's law, however.
Liberty Counsel's lawsuits claim the laws violate the constitutionally protected by free speech and religion and the right to prioritize religious and moral values, the Dispatch writes.
"The minors we represent do not want to act on same-sex attractions, nor do they want to engage in such behavior," Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, said after the California ruling. "They are greatly benefiting from this counseling. Their grades have gone up, their self-esteem has improved, and their relationships at home are much improved."
Lawmakers from Ohio aren't the only ones pushing for a bill that would ban conversion therapy. Last month, it was reported Pennsylvania Reps. Brain Sims and Gerald Mullery introduced a bipartisan bill to protect the state's children from conversion therapy.