COLUMBUS, Ohio — 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, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
“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 was quoted as saying to the Dispatch. Details about when Tavares plans to introduce the bill were not reported.
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, the article noted.
Tavares 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.
The Liberty Counsel, a Christian ministry, has filed suits challenging the laws in New Jersey and California; a federal appeals court recently upheld the California version. The lawsuits argue that the laws violate constitutionally protected free speech and religion and the right to prioritize one’s religious and moral values, the Dispatch article noted.
Conversion therapy has come under fire from professional groups. The Ohio Psychological Association is expected to back Tavares’ bill, the article noted.
The American Psychological Association passed a resolution in 2009 condemning conversion therapy.
In June, California-based Exodus International, a Christian group that had promoted sexual-orientation change therapy, apologized to the gay community and shut its doors.