House Bill 228 aims to bring back conversion therapy in Utah

Utah State Rep. Michael Peterson is sponsoring House Bill 228, which would partially reverse Utah’s conversion therapy ban.

The bill would redefine what conversion therapy is, which the state originally banned in all forms in 2020. HB 228 would allow for talk therapy, where mental health professionals would engage in therapy sessions with LGBTQ+ youth in attempts to change their gender identity or sexual orientation. Previously, conversion therapy included physical and sexual abuse, electro-shock therapy, forced medication, and other violent tactics. Those methods were banned in 2020 by Gov. Gary Herbert when Utah became the 19th state to take such action. 

HB 228 would continue the ban on the more violent forms of therapy and prohibit “certain healthcare professionals from providing conversion therapy to a minor.” Additionally, the bill changes the meaning of the practice by clarifying “that verbal or written communication by itself does not fall within the definition of conversion therapy.” The full bill can be read here.

The House of Representatives released a statement claiming that the bill would improve mental health treatment. However, conversion therapy as a whole has been discredited by most medical associations, including the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association. Youths that are subjected to any kind of conversion therapy have been shown to have an increased risk of depression, self-harm, and suicide.

Organizations such as Equality Utah are fighting against the bill, encouraging Utahns to ask their legislators to vote against it.

Story by: Anden Garfield
Photo Courtesy of Dustin Humes on Unsplash