Hawaii might ban conversion therapy.
Lawmakers in the House and Senate are considering legislation that would prohibit therapists from attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBT youth.
The practice has been widely discredited and condemned in the medical community, as it has been linked to depression and suicide. And Rep. Della Au Belatti, a Democrat who introduced the bill, stressed how essential such protections were for young people.
"These children, these teenagers are quite vulnerable," she told the Associated Press. "This is an issue because we don't want them to be subject to further pressure and stigmatization during their formative years in school."
"Really, it's a subtle form of child abuse," added Camaron Miyamoto, the director of LGBTI student services at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. "The violence isn't seen on the outside, but it's felt for a lifetime."
Opponents of the legislation, such as Rep. Bob McDermott, argued that “ex-gay” therapy should remain an option for concerned parents.
"What if I want my kids — they're questioning, they're on the fence — and I want to steer them to the rich life of being a heterosexual, and as a parent, I don't have that right?" he questioned.
If the bill becomes law, Hawaii would follow in the footsteps of other states that have banned conversion therapy, including New Jersey, Illinois, California, and Oregon.