(Feb. 28) – Democrats on the House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee voted to pass a bill by Rep. Paul Rosenthal to ban so-called “conversion therapy,” on minors and therefore to ensure that no more Colorado children are subjected to this harmful practice. All six Republican members of the committee voted against the bill.

“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. HB17-1156 prohibits physicians specializing in psychiatry and licensed or registered mental health professionals from engaging in conversion therapy with patients under 18 years of age.

“We have a responsibility to protect Colorado children from the harmful and discredited practice of gay conversion therapy,” said Rep. Rosenthal, D-Denver. “The nation’s leading mental health associations warned against the dangers of this practice and studies have shown that minors being subjected to this therapy are at a higher risk of drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and suicide.”

Numerous Coloradans also testified in support of the bill.

“When I was at my lowest and needed someone to support me, my therapist was there,” said Noah McQueen. “Imagine not being able to have that professional help you, but instead hurt you.”

Esteban Lee O’Neal testified about his own painful experiences with the practice while an adult.

“I can only imagine the impacts this would have had on me if I was under the age of 18,” said O’Neal. “The data shows that conversion therapy is mental abuse and emotional torture. And I can tell you from personal experience that it is.”

The 7-6 vote sends the bill to the House floor.

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