JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - For the first time in Missouri, HB 2141 focused on banning so-called “conversion therapy”, has been filed by Rep. Tracy McCreery. The Youth Mental Health Preservation Act states “that state licensed professionals cannot engage in any form of conversion therapy of a minor.”

 

“Conversion therapy is a dangerous practice that needs to be stopped. Lawmakers should be doing everything in our power to protect all children,” said McCreery (D-St. Louis).

 

Missouri is the fourth state (Arizona, Virginia, Washington) that has introduced legislation banning conversion therapy practices for minors by licensed therapists in 2018.

 

According to the Human Rights Campaign, LGBT youth who are highly rejected by their parents are more than eight times as likely to attempt suicide compared to LGBT youth who were not rejected or even a little rejected.*

So what is conversion therapy?

Conversion therapy, also referred to as "reparative therapy,”  “ex-gay therapy,” and “sexual orientation change efforts,” is a widely discredited practice that attempts to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity. Practices to “cure” individuals of their same-sex sexual orientations and transgender identities include a number of techniques ranging from shaming to hypnosis to inducing vomiting to electric shocks.

These practices have been condemned by the American Counseling Association, American Medical Association, and American Psychiatric Association. In 2009, the American Psychological Association (APA) issued a report** enumerating the direct risks of conversion therapy to include, among others: depression, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, shame, social withdrawal, and a distinct rise in suicidality.

 

There are no cities in Missouri in which conversion therapy is banned for minors. Nine states (plus D.C.) have passed similar legislation, including California, Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Several cities in Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania have also banned conversion therapy practices for minors. 


“We all have a responsibility to stand up and protect the mental and physical health of young people who being told there is something about them that needs to be ‘cured’ and put at risk by the dangerous practices of conversion therapy.” said Steph Perkins, Executive Director of PROMO, Missouri's statewide LGBT advocacy organization.

 

“The State of Missouri has a compelling interest in ensuring that licensed health care providers follow professional standards of care and do not participate in or promote practices that have no scientific basis and significantly harm their clients, especially minors," Perkins continued. "We urge the Missouri legislature to consider the damages these practices have on their constituents and pass the Youth Mental Health Preservation Act.”

 

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