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LDS Church Pushes Back Against Outlawing 'Conversion Therapy' For Minors

Map of U.S. states with laws banning conversion therapy for minors.
Movement Advancement Project
States in green have laws on the books banning conversion therapy for minors. The others do not, which the exception of North Carolina, which has a partial ban.

On the heels of Colorado becoming the 18th state to ban “conversion therapy” earlier this year, Utah’s debating the widely discredited practice meant to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender expression.

This week the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced its opposition to a proposed rule that would prohibit Utah-licensed mental health professionals from using conversion therapy on minors.

The rule was written at the behest of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, who, as The Salt Lake Tribune reports, has said he has “concerns about some of the abuse that I’ve heard talked about.”

In the Mountain West, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, which lean Democratic, have outlawed conversion therapy. Logan Casey with the non-profit equality think tank Movement Advancement Project says those states have more robust LGBTQ advocacy groups than the rest of the region.

“So that is going to be part of the impact of getting policies—or even just bills—to the legislature,” Casey said.

But Casey also says conversion therapy bans are unique in that they often have bipartisan support. 

Eighteen states across the country have enacted the bans, including seven under Republican governors. Casey says Utah may be unique because of the strong influence of the LDS church. 

Correction 1:16 p.m. 10/18/19: An earlier version of this story referred to LGBTQ communities. It has been changed to LGBTQ advocacy groups.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Nate Hegyi is the Utah reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, based at KUER. He covers federal land management agencies, indigenous issues, and the environment. Before arriving in Salt Lake City, Nate worked at Yellowstone Public Radio, Montana Public Radio, and was an intern with NPR's Morning Edition. He received a master's in journalism from the University of Montana.
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