Today, members of the Ohio Senate, led by Senators Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Tina Maharath (D-Canal Winchester), introduced SB 50, which would prohibit the fraudulent and dangerous practice of attempting to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, sometimes called “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy”.
Joining Senators Antonio and Maharath in supporting SB50 as co-sponsors are Senators Craig (D-Columbus), Fedor (D-Toledo), Thomas (D-Avondale), and Yuko (D-Richmond Heights).
This practice – which is universally shunned in the medical community – seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and is particularly harmful to youth. Currently, in our country and state, the rates of contemplated, attempted and completed suicide among LGBTQ+ young people are staggering, and that risk is exacerbated among youth who are subjected to these harmful practices. Ohio’s young people must be supported in their efforts to understand the complexities of their identities, and that support cannot have the robustness and affirmation that young people need while conversion therapy remains legal in our state.
Conversion “therapy” is bogus. No study has demonstrated that the practice has a healing therapeutic purpose. Instead, studies have shown that it causes real harm to minors.
According to the Trevor Project, while some conversion therapists continue to use physical methods, including painful aversive conditioning, the most common techniques in the United States today include “talk therapies” that licensed or unlicensed practitioners use in an attempt to “treat” a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. They may falsely claim that a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is a result of abuse and childhood trauma, or otherwise a result of the person’s environment and upbringing. Part of the reason for the vast diversity in experiences of change efforts is due to the fact that modern science has so thoroughly rejected the practice, so there is no accredited training for mental health professionals on how to attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. That also means there is no ethical standard of care for doing so.
Specifically, this bill prohibits licensed healthcare professionals from subjecting minors to these dangerous “therapies” and provides state licensing boards the right to suspend or revoke the licenses of those who do so. The coalition supporting this bill in Ohio includes Equality Ohio, the Human Rights Campaign, the Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, Kaleidoscope Youth Center, the Trevor Project, and the Ohio Psychological Association.
Nearly every relevant medical professional association in the country agrees: this practice is harmful to those who undergo it–especially youth. It can make existing mental health problems worse without any proof of success in its destructive aims. There is no credible use for so-called conversion “therapy”, and the negative consequences it has for LGBTQ+ youth are astronomical. It must end.