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Thursday, February 13, 2020

House committee passes expansive bill to ban LGBT conversion therapy for minors


Rep. Jason Dunnington (D-OKC) presented HB3872, the 'Youth Mental Health Protection Act', in the House Committee on Children, Youth and Family Services yesterday. The bill bans the use of so-called "conversion therapy" on minors, with no exemptions (unlike a similar bill in Utah that is being pushed as a model in red states by LGBT advocates).

HB3872 defines conversion therapy as this:
1. "Conversion therapy" means any practice or treatment that seeks to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity, including, but not limited to, any effort to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward persons of the same sex. "Conversion therapy" does not mean:
a. counseling or mental health services that provide acceptance, support and understanding of a person without seeking to change sexual orientation or gender identity, or
b. mental health services that facilitate a person's coping, social support, or sexual orientation or gender identity exploration and development, including, but not limited to, an intervention to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices, without seeking to change sexual orientation or gender identity;
2. "Gender identity" means the gender-related identity, appearance, mannerisms, or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, regardless of the individual's designated sex at birth; and
3. "Sexual orientation" means heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality, whether actual or perceived.
The bill states that "No provider, as defined in Section 725.2 of Title 59 of the Oklahoma Statutes, shall provide conversion therapy to any person under eighteen (18) years of age, or to a consumer, regardless of age, for whom a conservator or guardian has been appointed," and that violation of the act "shall be grounds for disciplinary action by the provider's licensing board."

State Rep. Randy Randleman, a Licensed Psychologist in the Eufaula area, argued against the measure. It passed committee by a vote of 10-4:

  • Forrest Bennett (D-OKC): Aye
  • Jeff Boatman (R-Tulsa): Aye
  • Chairwoman Carol Bush (R-Tulsa): Aye
  • Rep. Darrel Fincher (R-Bartlesville): Aye
  • Ronny Johns (R-Ada): Aye
  • Dell Kerbs (R-Shawnee): Aye
  • Cyndi Munson (D-OKC): Aye
  • Melissa Provenzano (D-Tulsa): Aye
  • Trish Ranson (D-Stillwater): Aye
  • Cynthia Roe (R-Lindsay): Aye
  • Mark Lawson (R-Sapulpa): Nay
  • Nicole Miller (R-Edmond): Nay
  • Randy Randleman (R-Eufaula): Nay
  • Vice Chairman John Talley (R-Stillwater): Nay

Utah passed a similar ban in 2019, which is being pushed as a model for other states, particularly in Republican-led states. However, the Utah bill is much more narrow in scope, and contains exemptions for "a clergy member or religious counselor who is acting substantially in a pastoral or religious capacity and not in the capacity of a mental health therapist", as well as for "a parent or grandparent who is a mental health therapist with respect to counseling a child or grandchild of the parent or grandparent."

Dr. Albert Mohler of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary discussed the Utah situation on his The Briefing podcast several weeks ago. The Dunnington bill follows the very expansive definition of conversion therapy promoted by LGBT advocacy organizations such as GLAAD. The Utah legislation follows a more narrow definition, focusing the ban on treatments that:
"claims that therapy will result in a complete and permanent reversal in the patient/client's sexual orientation; asserts that a complete and permanent change in the patient or client's sexual orientation is necessary; subjects a patient or client to physical discomfort through aversive treatment that causes nausea, vomiting, or other unpleasant physical sensations; or provides electric shock or other electrical therapy, including electroconvulsive therapy or transcranial magnet stimulation." [source]
The audio of the meeting can be heard at this link, beginning at 3:29:05. The text of the bill can be read here.

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