Just How Effective Are Bans Against LGBTQ ‘Conversion Therapy’?

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For Rewire (then RH Reality Check)

Alyssa Chiampi, 20, arrived at Western Oregon University determined to figure out who she was and what she wanted out of life. Up to that point, she says, her religious upbringing in Medford, Oregon, four hours away had given her a narrow view of sexuality and identity.

“Being raised very Christian, conservative, my only thought about the LGBT community was they were weird, wrong, gross—because of who they were,” she told Rewire.

Last year, while still a freshman at WOU, she determined that she was pansexual and started getting involved in student leadership organizations and advocacy groups, including the Triangle Alliance, an LGBTQI advocacy group. Privately, she struggled to reconcile her newfound sexual identity with her identity as a faithful Christian. A few months ago, she came out to her sister, who outed her to her mother without her consent. Her mother then asked her to meet with a therapist in her hometown who could “fix” her.

Chiampi was one of the 22 people, including mental health professionals as well as other survivors, who testified before the Oregon legislature earlier this year in favor of proposed legislation that would ban licensed therapists from using their practices to try and change, “cure,” or “fix” minors who identify as LGBTQ. The Oregon legislation, which passed out of the state house of representatives last week and is now before the senate, is one of 17 bills currently before state legislatures that would ban so-called conversion therapy. (One bill, which died in Oklahoma’s legislature this spring, sought to prevent it from being banned.) Most are similar to the Oregon law, and to those passed in California, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., in recent years: They specifically address licensed therapists who treat minors, using the state’s licensing boards as enforcers.

Activists are heartened by the trend. Still, some point out that the the raft of laws legislatures are currently considering don’t address all the ways conversion therapy is actually practiced—which can include “treatment” for dependent patients over the age of 18, or from members of the clergy or other non-licensed individuals.

Read the rest at Rewire.

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