Gov. Herbert proposes rule to ban conversion therapy on minors

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert. File photo: Wikimedia Commons

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Nov. 27, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Gov. Gary R. Herbert has directed two groups — the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing and the Utah Department of Commerce — to file a new rule to ban conversion therapy on minors in the state of Utah.

Conversion therapy is the practice of trying to change an individual’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual using psychological or spiritual interventions.

The proposed rule uses language from H.B. 399 — presented by Rep. Craig Hall during the 2019 General Legislative Session — and will apply to all licensed therapists practicing in Utah, a released statement says.

The proposed rule, backed by a number of public leaders, organizations, and policy groups, is intended to “end the harmful practice of conversion therapy on minors,” the governor’s statement says.

Since the public comment period closed, the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing has considered all 2,465 individual comments submitted regarding the first draft of a rule regulating conversion therapy, the statement says.

Since that time, the governor’s office has worked with a number of stakeholders with input on specific, technical aspects of the language in the rule, it says.

“I have learned much through this process,” Herbert said in the prepared statement. “The stories of youth who have endured these so-called therapies are heart rending, and I’m grateful that we have found a way forward that will ban conversion therapy forever in our state.

“I’m grateful to the many stakeholders who came to the table in good faith, with never-ending patience. I’m also grateful  to the dedicated board members at DOPL for their work that enabled us to come together to craft this rule.”

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, said his group is “profoundly grateful to Governor Herbert and the Psychologist Licensing Board for the thoughtful and meticulous manner in which they have worked to protect LGBTQ+ youth from conversion therapy.

“We are pleased that the new rule will mirror the legislation that was drafted and introduced earlier this year. We have no doubt the adoption of this rule will send a life-saving message to LGBTQ+ youth across our state.”

Stephenie Larsen, chief executive officer of Encircle, added a statement.

“On this Thanksgiving week, I’m grateful that this new rule will protect Utah’s LGBTQ+ children and minors by banning conversion therapy,” she said. “We fully support its adoption, and believe this is the best way forward.”

Marty Stephens, director of government relations for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said the LDS Church is against the practice of conversion therapy.

“We are opposed to conversion therapy and our therapists do not practice it. However, we are grateful for the clarifications the new rule provides, and we support its adoption,” Stephens said in the news release.

“We thank the governor, his staff and the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing for finding a good solution which will work for all concerned.”

The proposed rule will be published on Dec. 15. The 30-day public comment period will end on Jan. 14, 2020. The new rule could be effective as early as Jan. 22, 2020.


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