by Shane Vander Hart
The Colorado House voted 42 to 20 in favor of HB 1129 a bill that bans the state’s licensed, certified, or registered psychiatrists and mental health care providers from practicing conversion therapy on minors.
The bill defines “conversion therapy” as “efforts to change an individual’s sexual orientation, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attraction or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”
The bill allows counseling and therapy that “provides acceptance, support, and understanding of the individual or the facilitation of an individual’s coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices.”
The bill is sponsored by State Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet (D-Commerce City), State Representative Daneya Esgar (D-Pueblo), and Senate Majority Leader Stephen
Currently, 15 states and the District of Columbia ban conversion therapy for minors, and over 40 cities and counties prohibit the practice.
Supporters of the bill state that conversion that conversion therapy with minors is not only ineffective, but harmful.
One bill introduced in Nebraska attempts to include subjecting a child to conversion therapy in the state’s legal definition of child abuse. It was later withdrawn.
Pro-family groups criticized the Colorado measure.
“Colorado legislators should reject the proposal to outlaw voluntary talk therapy for people with unwanted same-sex attractions,” Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for Family Research Council, told The National Pulse. “The provision purporting to protect minors from coercion is actually a form of coercion
“Furthermore, the provision calling such counseling a ‘deceptive trade practice’ is itself deceptive. No scientific research has ever proven that such counseling causes more harm than any other type of therapy, and there is an abundance of evidence that it has been helpful for many,” he added.
Opponents also underscored the consequences.
“The unfortunate consequence of bills like this one will be to silence those who can offer hope and help to the struggling. Not everyone who finds themselves with same-sex desires wants to act upon them. Not everyone with gender dysphoria wants to change their bodies. No one is in favor of permitting abuse to masquerade as ‘therapy.’ But counseling bans are the wrong tool for addressing abuse,” Emilie Kao, Director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion & Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, told The National Pulse.
This bill actually requires all mental health professionals to affirm even young gender confused children as transgender which guarantees that many minors will be permanently sterilized under the guise of treating gender dysphoria – a condition that would otherwise resolve in up to 95% of them with counseling that either affirms biological sex or promotes watchful waiting. This is criminal,” Dr. Michelle Cretella, executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, explained to The National Pulse.
Terry Schilling, executive director with the American Principles Project, pointed out the hypocrisy of those who advocate for this bill. “Colorado legislators who supported this bill claim they oppose ‘conversion therapy’ but are just fine with permanent sex conversion surgeries that permanently mutilate children and sterilize them for life,” he said in a released statement after the bill passed the Colorado House.
“Let’s be clear: the left-wing activists pushing this legislation obviously doesn’t care about people with gender dysphoria. If they did, they would support letting them seek the care they desire from licensed professionals who can help them match their gender identity with their biological sex. Instead, these radical activists want to take that choice away from parents and children and force them into incredibly harmful sex change procedures. This bill comes at a time when hundreds of people across the globe are having regrets about their sex changes. Maybe Colorado legislators should put down the joints and start thinking a bit more clearly,” Schilling added.
There are also constitutional issues with such a bill.
“The bill is also unconstitutional—as the U.S. Supreme Court signaled last year in a decision which said that ‘professional speech’ (such a that of a therapist or counselor) is protected by the First Amendment,” Sprigg noted.
Government interference into the therapist-client relationship is problematic.
“Individuals struggling with sexual attractions, addictions, and gender dysphoria deserve to have private conversations with the counselor of their choice free from government censorship,” Kao said.
“Members of the counseling profession should abide by their own traditional ethical principles and respect the client’s autonomy to determine their own goals for therapy,” Sprigg shared.