Lawmakers in California and New Jersey have already passed laws to prevent “ex-gay” child abuse, and now an Ohio lawmaker is following their lead:
A Democratic state legislator from Columbus wants to make Ohio the next state to ban licensed counselors from trying to change a youth’s sexual orientation.
“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,” Sen. Charleta Tavares said.
California banned sexual-orientation therapy last year for anyone younger than 18. In August, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, signed a similar law. Tavares said her bill more closely mirrors the New Jersey law, leaving penalties up to professional licensing boards.
She said it is an issue that she and her Democratic colleagues thought they needed to be more proactive in addressing, noting the higher rates of suicide among gays. She said she does not know whether so-called conversion therapy is used much in Ohio, but she said that even if it’s rare, the bill still sends a message.
“We don’t want to do any harm to a child,” she said.
One thing that the anti-gay Religious Right simply refuses to grasp is that the effectiveness of “ex-gay” therapy isn’t up for debate — it doesn’t work, and it hurts people. This is not a subject about which there are differing opinions. There is clear science, and those on the anti-gay side simply refuse to accept it. Banning “ex-gay”/reparative therapy for minors means that we’re doing everything we can to prevent that particular form of child abuse. It’s wonderful that lawmakers are gaining a true understanding of the urgency of this issue.
Towleroad points out that a similar bill is currently working its way through in Pennsylvania.