JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — For the second time in as many years, State Representative Tracy McCreery (D-88-St. Louis) has introduced the Youth Mental Health Preservation Act in the Republican controlled legislature. 


HB 516, which was filed in the House on Wednesday, would prohibit licensed mental health practitioners from subjecting minors to harmful "conversion therapy" practices that attempt to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.


So-called "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.


Such 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.


“Conversion therapy is a dangerous practice that needs to be stopped," said McCreery. "Laws protecting LGBTQ children from conversion therapy are needed to ensure that practitioners licensed by the state of Missouri are providing competent care and caring for all of our children. Lawmakers should be doing everything in our power to protect children.”



Filing Wednesday with Rep. McCreery is (from left) Rep. Ian Mackey (D-87-St. Louis), Rep. Tom Hannegan (R-65-St. Charles), Rep. Greg Razer (D-25-Kansas City), and Rep. Martha Stevens (D-46-Columbia).


A 2018 William’s Institute report estimates that 698,000 LGBTQ adults in the United States have received conversion therapy, and 350,000 of these adults received the therapy as adolescents. 


Presently, 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 against minors. The William’s Institute report estimates that 6,000 LGBTQ youth would have received conversion therapy had their states not banned the practice. 20,000 LGBTQ youth (ages 13-17) will receive conversion therapy from a licensed healthcare professional before the time they reach 18 in one of the 41 states in which it is not banned.


“Missouri has a strong interest in ensuring that licensed health care providers follow professional standards of competence and do not engage in dangerous practices that have no scientific basis and put young people at risk of severe and long-lasting damage," said Steph Perkins, Executive Director of PROMO, Missouri's statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization.


"PROMO will again be in the Capitol every single day working on both sides of the aisle to ensure our state is doing all we can to protect LGBTQ youth,” said Perkins.


Photography: PROMO



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