State lawmakers are looking over a plan to ban conversion therapy for young people in the state. The issue carries some controversy. Conversion therapy involves assisting, or attempting to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.  To be more precise, it is typically viewed as the attempt by mental health professionals, and sometimes clergy, to get young people who believe they are gay to believe they are not. A number of countries have banned the practice. A number of states have banned it. And several cities in Michigan have also enacted bans. The attempt has been made previously in Michigan with no success in the legislature.

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The bills are primarily supported by Democrats in the legislature. 50 Democrats have signed on as sponsors of the bill in the State House of Representatives. That includes Representative Jim Haadsma of Battle Creek and Representative Julie Rogers of Kalamazoo. Its companion bill with identical language in the State Senate has the support of 14 Democrats including Democrat Sean McCann of Kalamazoo. Republican Senator Wayne Schmidt is also signing on to that bill.

The essence of the bills is to ban mental health professionals from being involved in the activity. Those discovered to be involved in that kind of work with anyone under the age of 18 would face strict disciplinary action, including losing their state license to practice and a public sanction for unprofessional conduct.

The Human Rights Campaign website proclaims the therapy really isn’t, saying:
“So-called “conversion therapy,” sometimes known as “reparative therapy,” is a range of dangerous and discredited practices that falsely claim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Such practices have been rejected by every mainstream medical and mental health organization for decades, but due to continuing discrimination and societal bias against LGBTQ people, some practitioners continue to conduct conversion therapy. Minors are especially vulnerable, and conversion therapy can lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide.”

Both bills in the Michigan legislature have been referred to committees for initial review.

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