An Ohio representative introduced a bill this week that would ban anyone under the age of 18 from participating in gay conversion therapy.
State Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville) worked with many organizations for the past several months to create House Bill 503.
“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,” she said. “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.”
The bi-partisan bill had support from more than 20 Democrats and two Republicans.
Danielle Smith, LSW, CAE, Executive Director, National Association of Social Workers—Ohio Chapter:, who work with Lightbody on this legislation applauded the Ohio legislature for “stepping up” and “finding solutions” to ban this practice.
“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,” she said. “This bill is an important step forward to ending this incredibly dangerous practice our state.”
Seven places in Ohio: Cincinnati, Toledo, Columbus, Dayton, Athens, Lakewood and Kent have outlawed this practice in their cities.
Currently, 19 states have banned gay conversion therapy, according to lgbtmap.com.
“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,” 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.”
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