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Rep. Lightbody introduces bill to ban conversion therapy

Says bill protects youth from a dangerous and discredited practice
February 11, 2020
Mary Lightbody News

COLUMBUS—State Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville) today introduced legislation to protect minors by prohibiting certain health care professionals from engaging in conversion therapy when treating minor patients.

“Human beings are complex and each individual is unique. As children grow, we all learn about the world and develop an identity that expresses who we are at heart. This legislation affirms the right of young people to develop their own gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation without those in the medical community trying to change their minds.” Rep. Lightbody said.

Lightbody has been working with a coalition of organizations for the past several months to create legislation that addresses this issue. These organizations include: Equality Ohio; National Association of Social Workers (NASW)—Ohio Chapter; Kaleidoscope Youth Center; Ohio Psychological Association; Equitas Health; Human Rights Campaign (HRC); Mental Health & Addiction Advocacy Coalition; Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist Board; and Ohio School Psychologists Association.

Danielle Smith, LSW, CAE, Executive Director, National Association of Social Workers—Ohio Chapter: "NASW Ohio is grateful to Representative Lightbody and other members of the Ohio General Assembly for stepping up and finding solutions to ban the practice of conversion therapy. It sends a powerful message to LBGTQ youth in this state that their lives and well-being matter. It is a horrific reality that conversion therapy is indeed happening in Ohio, even by licensed professionals within social work, counseling, and psychology despite the practice being condemned by our professions’ ethical codes. This bill is an important step forward to ending this incredibly dangerous practice our state."

“This is about saving lives, not partisan politics,” said HRC Ohio State Director Shawn Copeland. “No child should be put through the dangerous, debunked and inhumane practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy.’ We thank Rep. Lightbody for introducing this important bipartisan legislation that will protect LGBTQ youth and urge lawmakers in both chambers to stand up and protect Ohio’s kids. It is beyond time that we protect Ohio’s LGBTQ youth from this harmful junk science across the state and in every jurisdiction.”

Jim Broyles, PhD, Director of Professional Affairs, Ohio Psychological Association: “Psychologists and other mental health professionals recognize that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender is a normal variation of the human condition.  None of these conditions are considered to be a disorder or problem that needs to be changed. No valid, scientific evidence supports the notion that any treatment intervention can change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.  Solid evidence exists that these change efforts can be quite damaging for an individual. Individuals who are subjected to procedures which attempt to change their sexual orientation or gender identity can often feel serious distress, negative self-image, depression, and are at higher risk for suicidal behavior.”

Zoe Fawcett Freggens, Education Manager, Equitas Health and Equitas Health Institute: “Conversion therapy does not work. Conversion therapy only furthers the health disparities that are already present within our community because of prejudice. Therapists are supposed to help us toward supporting mental health, not try and alter us into what they deem health worthy. We thank Rep. Lightbody for introducing bipartisan legislation to combat this issue and keep Ohioans safe from this harmful practice.”

Ann Brennan, Executive Director, Ohio School Psychologists Association: "The Ohio School Psychologists Association supports legislation banning conversion therapy. We applaud Representative Lightbody for introducing this bipartisan bill to protect Ohio’s children from the trauma imposed by this extremely harmful practice.”

“So-called conversion ‘therapy,’ is a dangerous and discredited practice aimed at changing a young person's sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Alana Jochum, Executive Director of Equality Ohio. “All leading medical associations have condemned it for a simple reason: it causes real harm and doesn't work. LGBTQ youth are not sick and they do not need ‘fixed.’ They need support and acceptance. We applaud Rep. Lightbody and the bipartisan cosponsors backing this bill. May Ohio be the next state to join the nearly 20 states already protecting their youth from this harm.”

Kaleidoscope Youth Center Executive Director Erin Upchurch, MSSA, LISW-S:  "Conversion therapy is a harmful and devastating practice that centers ideas and beliefs over the lives of youth and adolescents. The purpose and intention of the therapeutic process is to support individuals in navigating their lives in a way that promotes resilience and thriving. Practitioners have a responsibility to create spaces for young people to experience safety and belonging; both basic needs for all people."

Nineteen states, plus Washington, D.C., have laws banning conversion therapy for minors. In addition, 7 cities in Ohio (Athens, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Kent, Lakewood, and Toledo) have banned conversion therapy as well. 

“The practice of conversion therapy is a dangerous and discredited practice that is based on a false claim that being LGBTQ+ is a mental illness that must be cured,” Rep. Lightbody said. “This view has no scientific basis and has been opposed by professional medical and mental health associations. Ohio must step up to join these other states and localities in ending this practice and prevent future harm.”

The bill has not yet been assigned to a House committee, where it would be eligible for public hearings.