State Lawmaker Working To End Conversion Therapy In Oklahoma

Tuesday, October 15th 2019, 7:14 pm
By: Storme Jones

An Oklahoma lawmaker is renewing efforts to ban the controversial practice of conversion therapy.

According to Freedom Oklahoma, an LGBTQ advocacy group, "Conversion therapy is a range of dangerous and discredited practices that falsely claim to change a person's sexual orientation and/or gender identity or expression."

Eighteen states have already outlawed the practice of attempting to covert a gay person straight through counseling. 

Experts told the committee conversion therapy is not only harmful to minors but has also been dispelled by nearly the entire mental health community including the American Psychological Association, the American psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association. 

"It's part of the variation in human development," Licensed Psychologist Dr. Paulette Pitt told the committee. "And variations in human development are not mental health disorders."

Rep. Jason Dunnington, (D) Oklahoma City, and Rep. Randy Randleman, (R) Eufaula, called for the study.

Dunnington is hoping to gain bipartisan support for the bill he sponsored last year which would outlaw the practice for minors. 

He said Republicans should support banning conversion therapy on health grounds, saying, they don't have to support LGBTQ lifestyles to see conversion therapy is problematic. 

"There are many issues we face in this building that have two sides. Conversion therapy is not one of them," he said.

First Stone Ministries in Oklahoma City offers services to individuals seeking "freedom from homosexuality and sexual brokenness."

The group's executive director, Stephen Black, said online, "Laws banning therapy and counseling for youth are clear, they demand that sexually confused children enter the ranks of the LGBTQ+ community and not find any resolve of traumas or true freedom."

The organization The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ people under 25. The group did a study of 34,000 LGBTQ youth in 2018 and found five percent went through conversion therapy. And of that five percent, 42 percent reported a suicide attempt in the last 12 months.