CARSON CITY — A bill that would ban conversion therapy on minors could inadvertently cut those youth off from trusted mentors, a trio of Republican lawmakers said Wednesday.
Senate Bill 201, sponsored by Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, would ban mental health professionals from conducting sexual orientation or gender identity conversion therapy on minors.
Sen. Becky Harris, R-Las Vegas, told the Assembly Health and Human Services Committee that she fears the bill might prevent those minors from being able to talk about their feelings with a trusted coach, neighbor or other adult.
Harris and fellow senators Joe Hardy and Scott Hammond proposed an amendment to the bill that would make the law apply only to licensed psychotherapists acting in an official capacity.
Harris, Hardy and Hammond voted against the bill on the Senate floor and again opposed the bill Wednesday because, they said, they condemn the practice of conversion therapy but clearer language is needed in the law.
Hardy called conversion therapy “reprehensible,” and Harris said the Legislature “should take steps to root it out wherever it’s found.”
Conversion therapy practices has been denounced by major medical groups and critics say it often leads to anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicide among LGBTQ young people exposed to it.
Six states and Washington D.C. have enacted conversion therapy bans in recent years, with New Mexico passing its legislation this month. A dozen other states are considering similar legislation, Parks said.
The committee took no action Wednesday.
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States with bans on conversion therapy of minors:
- New Mexico
- New Jersey