BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A House panel has introduced legislation that would bar licensed therapists and counselors from offering so-called conversion therapy to minors.
Conversion therapy — sometimes called “reparation therapy” — is the scientifically discredited practice of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. On Thursday, Democratic Rep. John McCrostie from Garden City proposed legislation that would restrict licensed providers from offering conversion therapy to people under age 18.
The bill would not affect clergy, religious counselors, parents or grandparents as long as they are acting in their religious or family roles rather than as licensed professional mental health care providers.
Idaho’s Legislature has historically been hostile toward LGBTQ-related legislation, however, repeatedly rejecting efforts to add protections for sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s equal rights act, passing legislation banning transgender girls and women from competing in school sports and previously rejecting efforts to legislate conversion therapy.
McCrostie told the House Health and Welfare Committee that the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association and other major medical groups oppose conversion therapy because it is harmful and lacks scientific credibility.
“The danger in being exposed to conversion therapy is the damage it causes to mental health,” McCrostie said. A 2019 survey from The Trevor Project found that young people who had undergone conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide as those who did not, he said.
The House Health and Welfare Committee agreed to introduce the bill on a voice vote, with only Republican Rep. Megan Blanksma of Hammett voting no.
Earlier this week McCrostie also introduced legislation that would add protections for gender identity and sexual orientation to Idaho’s Human Rights Act, making it illegal to discriminate against LGBTQ residents in employment, housing and other public accommodations.
This is the 16th year that an “Add the Words” bill has been proposed in Idaho. This year, McCrostie introduced the bill as a personal bill on the House floor, which means it is unlikely to get a committee hearing or advance.