A bill to ban conversion therapy for minors in Colorado, sponsored by State Rep. Paul Rosenthal (D-Arapahoe) and State Sen. Stephen Fenberg (D-Boulder), passed the House with a 38-27 bipartisan vote. The bill is now headed for the Republican controlled Senate where it was defeated twice before, in 2015 and 2016.
Conversion therapy is the practice of using psychological counseling to “convert” a gay person to being straight, or a transgender person to identify with their biological sex. This type of therapy treats gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals as needing to be cured, that they are somehow diseased or psychologically and emotionally disordered.
While various religious groups and churches strongly advocate for the practice, it has been widely discredited in professional psychology and medical associations and practitioners. By 1975, homosexuality had been removed as a mental illness by every credible source, in Colorado and nation-wide.
Daniel Ramos, Executive Director of OneColorado, the leading LGBTQ rights advocacy group in the state, lauded the passage of the bill through the state House of Representatives in a press release today.
“House Bill 1156 will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth in Colorado from discredited and dangerous efforts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. So-called ‘conversion therapy’ is extremely harmful to the well-being of young people.
Every mainstream mental and medical professional association in the country has discounted conversion therapy. In Colorado, many major behavioral and mental health organizations — including the Colorado Psychological Association, the Colorado Psychiatric Society, the Colorado Counseling Association, Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council, Mental Health Colorado, and the National Association of Social Workers – Colorado Chapter — support HB-1156.
These harmful practices use rejection, shame, and psychological abuse to force young people to try to change who they are. Unfortunately, many young people are coerced and subjected to conversion therapy, which puts them at increased risk for depression, substance abuse, and suicide.
No young person should ever be shamed by a mental health professional into thinking that who they are or who they love is wrong. As this bill moves over to the Colorado Senate, we hope that Republican leadership will give the bill a fair committee assignment and hearing.”