Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Utah Governor Gets Mormon Church Behind Conversion Therapy Ban

Utah Governor Gets Mormon Church Behind Conversion Therapy Ban

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert says stakeholders, including the Mormon Church, have agreed to rules implementing a ban on the practice of conversion therapy in the state.

“I have learned much through this process,” Herbert said in a press release. “The stories of youth who have endured these so-called therapies are heart rending, and I’m grateful that we have found a way forward that will ban conversion therapy forever in our state.”

The Republican governor this summer called for “ethical regulation” of the controversial practice in the state. Now, the state has worked on implementing rules based on House Bill 399, a bill proposed in this year but not passed into law, which sought to bar mental health therapists from providing conversion therapy to minors.

But as recently as last month, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints remained publicly opposed to a ban. The church in October released a statement that the “proposed professional licensing rule is ambiguous in key areas and overreaches in others.”

That’s apparently changed, and the church has now released a statement supporting Herbert’s regulations.

“We are opposed to conversion therapy and our therapists do not practice it,” reads a statement from Marty Stephens, director of government relations for the church. “We thank the governor, his staff and the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing for finding a good solution which will work for all concerned.”

The rules, which will be published December 15 and subject to a period of public comment before going into effect in January, also have the support of LGBTQ organizations.

“We are profoundly grateful to Governor Herbert and the Psychologist Licensing Board for the thoughtful and meticulous manner in which they have worked to protect LGBTQ+ youth from conversion therapy,” said Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah.

“We are pleased that the new rule will mirror the legislation that was drafted and introduced earlier this year. We have no doubt the adoption of this rule will send a lifesaving message to LGBTQ+ youth across our state.”

“The Trevor Project congratulates our friends at Equality Utah and all the advocates who have worked tirelessly to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangers of conversion therapy in Utah. As a survivor of conversion therapy, I am tremendously encouraged to see Utah on the road to becoming the 19th state to protect LGBTQ youth from this discredited practice,” said Sam Brinton, head of advocacy and government affairs for The Trevor Project. “The rules put forward today by the governor will protect thousands of young people in Utah, and galvanize momentum to protect youth across the country. Our research shows that one accepting adult in the life of an LGBTQ young person made them significantly less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year. Knowing that their state government has their back will literally save lives.” 

Added Mathew Shurka, a conversion therapy survivor and strategist for the National Center for Lesbian Rights' Born Perfect project: “It is vital that our leaders support LGBTQ youth. We are grateful to Governor Herbert for his leadership and for making sure all youth know they are born perfect. It is lifesaving.”

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