Ohio may be next state to ban gay conversion therapy

State Sen. Charleta Tavares would like to ban the discredited practice, saying, "We don’t want to do any harm"

Published October 7, 2013 4:53PM (EDT)

                                    (Flickr Creative Commons)
(Flickr Creative Commons)

A Democratic state legislator in Ohio would like to see her state become the next to ban so-called gay conversion therapy, and has introduced a bill to block all licensed counselors from providing the discredited "treatment" to young people.

“If they are already questioning their sexuality, we don’t want them to think there is something wrong with them that needs to be fixed,” Democratic state Sen. Charleta Tavares told the Columbus Dispatch.

“We don’t want to do any harm to a child,” she added.

As the Dispatch notes, the Ohio Psychological Association is expected to back the bill, joining groups like the American Psychological Association in condemning the practice.

“It’s very well-documented that that kind of counseling just doesn’t work and actually does a lot of harm to people,” said Michael Ranney, executive director of the Ohio association. “It’s something most mental health counseling organizations would oppose.”

The California and New Jersey bans are each being challenged by the Liberty Counsel, a Christian group, but, in light of the well-documented harm it inflicts on young people, support for gay conversion therapy is even losing traction among some Christians.

As Salon reported in June, Exodus International, one of the largest and most notorious “ex-gay” Christian ministries, issued a statement apologizing to members of the LGBT community for “years of undue suffering and judgment at the hands of the organization and the Church as a whole" and denounced so-called reparative therapy before Exodus President Alan Chambers dissolved the organization entirely.

Gay rights advocates in Ohio are hopeful Taveres' bill will pass.

Amy Eldridge, executive director of the Kaleidoscope Youth Center in Columbus, called conversion therapy “harmful to young people" and something that "just makes their struggle that much more difficult to come around to self-acceptance."

Bob Vitale, editor-in-chief of Outlook Columbus, told the Dispatch that trying to change someone's sexual orientation is “such a dated thought” -- and a dangerous one. “Unfortunately, that’s still a reaction from some parents when their kids come out -- to get them to a professional and try to [change them], and it just hurts them,” he said.



By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Alan Chambers Conversion Therapy Exodus International Gay Rights Lgbt Rights