Utah Becomes 19th State to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 22, 2020
Contact: Christopher Vasquez, NCLR Communications Director
cvasquez@nclrights.org / (415) 365-1337

Utah Becomes 19th State to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

Historic new rule adopted by the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing goes into effect today

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Today the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing adopted statewide rules protecting LGBTQ minors from conversion therapy, the harmful practice which seeks to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Utah Governor Gary Herbert directed the Division to develop the rules last year after proposed legislation to address the issue narrowly failed to pass the Utah Legislature.

Utah joins 18 other states, the District of Columbia, and more than 60 municipalities that have adopted similar protections.

Every leading medical and mental health organization in this country has rejected conversion therapy as ineffective and dangerous for minors.

“Once again, Utah has shown that LGBTQ advocates and political conservatives can work together to address the harms caused by discrimination and bias,” said Mathew Shurka, a conversion therapy survivor and Co-Founder of Born Perfect. “Utah’s rule protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy is a milestone in our nation’s growing recognition that LGBTQ youth are part of every community, and that every child is born perfect.  We are grateful to Equality Utah for their unwavering commitment to this issue and to Governor Herbert for his leadership.”

“Utah’s emergence as the most conservative state to address this issue shows how rapidly attitudes toward LGBTQ youth are changing in every part of this country,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter. “No matter what one’s political or religious affiliation may be, more and more people are recognizing that public officials have a responsibility to protect vulnerable youth from this life-threatening harm.”

To celebrate the adoption of the rule, conversion therapy survivors from around the state gathered at the state capitol in Salt Lake City with Equality Utah, the Utah Psychological Association, and State Representative Craig Hall – sponsor of H.B. 399 in 2019 that the new rules are nearly identical to as adopted.

Troy Williams, executive director of EQUALITY UTAH stated: “Every reputable science-based organization in the country recognizes that conversion therapy is a dangerous fraud. It exacerbates depression, anxiety, and suicide ideation. We are grateful to Governor Herbert and the Board of Psychologists for acting swiftly on behalf of LGBTQ youth.”

For more than 25 years, NCLR has been leading the fight against conversion therapy. Since 2014, NCLR’s Born Perfect Campaign has brought survivors and legal experts together to support legislation protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy. Born Perfect has partnered with the Trevor Project 50 Bills 50 States campaign, the Human Rights Campaign, and Equality Utah, along with local advocates in support of these vital protections in Utah.

Momentum on this work continues to build, with a record-breaking number of states and localities taking action to protect youth in recent months, including North Carolina, Kansas City, Missouri, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. The adoption of these new rules in Utah comes just a day after the Virginia Senate approved S.B. 245, which would protect youth from conversion therapy in that state. The Virginia bill now heads to the Virginia House of Delegates.

According to an estimate from the Williams Institute from UCLA Law, more than 350,000 LGBTQ minors have been subjected to the dangerous practice of “Conversion Therapy,” which studies have linked to these youth being more than twice as likely to experience depression, and nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide.


Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

Utah Governor Herbert Orders Utah Licensing Board to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 28, 2019

Contact: Shannon Minter – 415-624-6071; Email sminter@nclrights.org

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Yesterday, Utah Governor Gary Herbert released a letter ordering the Utah Psychologist Licensing Board to promulgate regulations protecting youth from efforts by licensed mental health professionals to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.  Governor Herbert ordered the Psychologist Licensing Board “to take the lead on this,’ and then to share its results with other state mental health licensing boards.  The letter also asks the board to “carefully consider how” psychologists can educate families when parents seek such dangerous treatments for their children.

Statement by Mathew Shurka, Conversion Therapy Survivor and Co-Founder of Born Perfect:

“When a state leader of Governor Herbert’s stature speaks out on this important issue, it educates millions of people.  As a survivor, I know that Governor Herbert’s leadership on this issue will save lives.”

Statement by Shannon Minter, Legal Director the National Center for Lesbian Rights:

“This is a huge step forward for LGBTQ youth and their families in Utah.  Governor Herbert is setting a powerful example for other state leaders across the country about how to address the issue of conversion therapy and protect young people from this life-threatening practice.”


Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

Salt Lake County Lawmakers Pass Unanimous Bipartisan Resolution Urging Utah to Bar Conversion Therapy for Minors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 25, 2019

Contact: Shannon Minter – 415-624-6071; Email sminter@nclrights.org

“As I know firsthand, being subjected to conversion therapy is a devastating and traumatizing experience for young people and their families.”

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Today, the Salt Lake County Council passed a unanimous bipartisan resolution urging the Utah Legislature to pass legislation protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy, the life-threatening practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Earlier this year, the Utah Legislature narrowly failed to pass House Bill 399, which would have barred licensed therapists from subjecting minors to conversion therapy.  The bill was sponsored by Representative Craig Hall, a Republican from West Valley City and enjoyed strong bipartisan support, including endorsements by Governor George Herbert and the Utah Department of Social Services.  However, hostile lawmakers derailed the bill at the last minute by offering a substitute bill that would have gutted its protections, dashing hopes for passage in the regular session this year.

Today’s resolution by the Salt Lake County Council notes that “conversion therapy has been associated with high rates of depression and suicidality among minors” and “urges the Utah State Legislature and the Governor of Utah to adopt a statute that protects minors from conversion therapy by prohibiting licensed mental health therapists from subjecting minors to these harmful and discredited practices.”

To date, 18 states and the District of Columbia and more than 50 localities have protected minors from conversion therapy.   Many of these laws were signed by Republican governors and passed with the support of Republican lawmakers.

Statement by Mathew Shurka, Conversion Therapy Survivor and Born Perfect Co-Founder:

“We applaud the Salt Lake County Council for standing up for conversion therapy survivors and letting LGBTQ youth know that they are valued.  As I know firsthand, being subjected to conversion therapy is a devastating and traumatizing experience for young people and their families.  Utah came close to putting a stop to this life-threatening practice earlier this year, and today’s action by the Salt Lake County Council sends a powerful message to Utah lawmakers to finish the job.”

Statement by Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights:

“Lawmakers across the country are working together across partisan lines to protect LGBTQ youth from this dangerous practice, which has been universally rejected by our nation’s leading medical and mental health organizations.  LGBTQ youth are already at a heightened risk of depression and suicide attempts due to the discrimination they face.  Conversion therapy multiplies those risks exponentially.  We are grateful to Salt Lake County for its leadership and for demonstrating that, regardless of their political differences, lawmakers have a shared interest in promoting the health and wellbeing of all youth.”


Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. 

NCLR, Born Perfect Applaud Utah Bill to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 21, 2019

CONTACT:
Shannon Minter, sminter@nclrights.org, (415) 624-6071
Perry Sacks, psacks@mrss.com, (917) 438-4619

NCLR AND BORN PERFECT CAMPAIGN APPLAUD INTRODUCTION OF HISTORIC UTAH BILL TO PROTECT LGBTQ YOUTH FROM CONVERSION THERAPY

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the Born Perfect campaign applaud today’s introduction in Utah of historic legislation to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy, the discredited practice of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, which has been denounced by all of the nation’s leading medical and mental health organizations.

The bill, “Prohibition of the Practice of Conversion Therapy upon Minors,” was introduced today by Rep. Craig Hall and Sen. Dan McCay, with support from local LGBTQ advocacy group, Equality Utah.

Statement by Shannon Minter, legal director of NCLR:

“The introduction of Utah’s bill to protect youth from conversion therapy is historic and marks a major milestone in the battle to end these harmful practices. The LDS Church deserves much credit for taking a clear stance against conversion therapy and helping to educate parents about the serious harms that it causes. In a political climate that is increasingly polarized, it is encouraging to see state legislators working together to address this important issue in such a positive way. This is a great day for Utah, which once again is showing that, even in red states, legislators can find a way forward to include and support LGBTQ people.”

Nationwide, 15 states and DC, as well as more than 45 localities, have enacted similar laws, including six statewide laws signed by Republican governors. In addition to Utah, 14 other states have introduced legislation so far this year.

Conversion therapy puts youth at risk of serious harms, including depression and suicide. A 2018 study by Dr. Caitlin Ryan of the Family Acceptance Project found that minors pressured to change their sexual orientation or gender identity were two times more likely to experience depression and nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide.


NCLR’s Born Perfect campaign was started in 2014 with the goal of passing laws across the country to protect LGBT children and young people, fighting in courtrooms to ensure their safety, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by the dangerous practice of conversion therapy.