(March 17) –A bill by Rep. Paul Rosenthal, D-Denver, to ban so-called “conversion therapy,” a harmful anti-LGBT practice, passed the House on final reading this morning.

“This bill protects Colorado teens from a harmful, outdated practice,” said Rep. Rosenthal. “So-called gay conversion therapy is an imposition of a therapist’s own view on a child. Too many people continue to be harmed by this so-called therapy that inflicts scars that last a lifetime.”

During second reading debate on Wednesday, Rep. Daneya Esgar spoke in strong support of the bill. “Being gay is not a choice,” Rep. Esgar told the House. “Wanting to bury my feelings for years caused me so much anguish and depression. This bill is simply saying if a child goes to a licensed therapist to talk about these feelings, the therapist can talk to them about it, but they can’t impose their own ideology and try to change them.”

“These kids deserve to discover their own truths without someone telling them what is right, what is wrong and what they should be and what they shouldn’t be,” continued Rep. Esgar.

“When I was struggling with my sexual orientation, I too sought out help,” Rep. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, told the House this morning. “It wasn’t until my therapist shared with me exactly what’s outlined in this bill—understanding, comfort, and acceptance—that I was able to accept who I really am.”

“To those young people, you are beautiful exactly the way you are,” closed Rep. Moreno.

“Conversion therapy” is a dangerous and discredited practice aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or suppressing a person’s gender identity. The practice has been rejected by every mainstream mental health professional association. HB16-1210 prohibits physicians specializing in psychiatry and licensed mental health professionals from engaging in conversion therapy with patients under 18 years of age. Studies have shown that minors being subjected to this practice are at a higher risk of drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and suicide.

The 35-29 vote sends the bill to the Senate. Rep. Dan Thurlow, R-Grand Junction was the sole Republican vote in favor of the bill.

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