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19 and proud: conversion therapy banned in Utah

It was announced today that on Jan. 22, Utah will become the 19th state in the nation to protect minors from the practice of so-called “Conversion Therapy.” The new rules were formally published on Dec. 15 in the Utah State Bulletin, which marked the start of a 30-day public comment period.

Now, the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing and Governor Gary Herbert have adopted these new rules to effectively regulate this dangerous practice. These new rules prohibit any state-licensed therapist from practicing conversion therapy with minors. This means they will not be allowed to encourage a child to change their sexual orientation or gender identity in any way or give the child hope they can change themselves.

Equality Utah, the Utah Psychological Association, Rep. Craig Hall and conversion therapy survivors will gather at the Capitol’s Copper Room at 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning to celebrate the adoption of this new rule.

University of Utah law professor Clifford Rosky, who worked on drafting the approved language, stated: “Although Utah is a predominately conservative state, protecting children from conversion therapy is not a partisan project.  It’s about preventing youth suicide — a goal that is widely shared by progressives and conservatives. Utah adopted this measure to prevent children from dying by suicide.” 

Rep. Craig Hall, the original sponsor of HB 399, said: “I am thrilled by the adoption of the Administrative Rule which ends conversion therapy once and for all in this State. Thanks to everyone who helped develop language that both prohibits conversion therapy and also protects the legitimate interests of healthcare professionals, patients and families. This measure will truly save lives.”

A fairly recent study by found that minors subjected to conversion therapy were two times more likely to experience depression (52 percent) and nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide (63 percent). Plus, a new study from JAMA Psychiatry on transgender clients in conversion therapy experience “severe psychological distress” and “increased odds of lifetime suicide attempts.”

PHOTO: Clifford Rosky

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