ABOVE: Equality Utah’s executive director Troy Williams (L) discusses suicide prevention with lawmakers, faith leaders and members of the Governor’s Youth Suicide Task Force looking on. Photo courtesy Equality Utah’s Facebook page
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) | Utah’s most powerful LGBTQ support organization wants legislation that would ban gay conversion therapy for minors.
Equality Utah has drafted a measure aiming for Utah to join more than a dozen states and the District of Columbia in outlawing efforts to change a minor’s sexual orientation to heterosexual, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
“We have a piece of legislation on this that we’ve drafted, and it includes concerns about suicide of gay youths,” said Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah.
Williams said he believes it’s the right time for the measure. It does not have a legislative sponsor yet, but he said he’s optimistic about its chances of passing.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has disavowed past therapies aimed at changing sexual orientation and has launched efforts to prevent suicide.
The independent Mormon Mental Health Association opposes therapies “which have been developed to change, alter or reduce sexual orientation.”
Clinical studies have linked these types of therapies with “increased rates of clinical depression, suicide, anxiety, low self-esteem, difficulty sustaining relationships and sexual dysfunction,” the association said.
A new study says the rates of attempted suicide were more than double among LGBTQ young adults whose parents had pushed them to change, compared with those reporting no conversion experiences.
The attempted suicide rate tripled among those who reported both efforts by parents and intervention efforts by therapists and religious leaders, according to the study by researcher Caitlin Ryan, director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University.
Such adults “may be motivated by attempts to ‘protect’ their children,” Ryan said, but “these rejecting behaviors instead undermine an LGBT child’s sense of self-worth, contribute to self-destructive behaviors that significantly increase risk and inhibit self-care, which includes constricting their ability to make a living.”