COLORADO TO BECOME THE 18TH STATE TO BAN CONVERSION THERAPY

Denver, CO — Today, the Colorado House concurred House Bill 19-1129: Prohibit Conversion Therapy for Minors on a bipartisan vote. If signed into law, the bill would ban the dangerous, discredited practice of conversion therapy on minors by a licensed professional.

One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Coloradans and their families, released the following statements in reaction to the bill’s passage from the Legislature:

“After five attempts in the last five years, the Colorado Legislature has finally taken the significant step in protecting our LGBTQ youth by banning the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is based on the false claim that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that needs to be cured – a view that has been rejected as scientifically invalid by every major medical and mental health group for decades. No young person should ever be shamed by a mental health professional into thinking that who they are is wrong. Mental health care should be ethical and affirming for all people – including LGBTQ young people. I applaud the House and the Senate for their bipartisan support of this measure. Protecting our LGBTQ youth is not a partisan issue.” – One Colorado Executive Director Daniel Ramos

Sponsored by Representatives Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, and Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, and Senator Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, this bill would ban a state-licensed mental health care provider from engaging in the discredited, harmful practice conversion therapy on a patient under eighteen years of age in order to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. A physician or mental health care provider who violates this provision engages in unprofessional conduct under the applicable professional licensing board.

On March 25th, the Colorado Senate passed House Bill 19-1129: Prohibit Conversion Therapy for Minors on a bipartisan 21-13 vote. Senators Don Coram, R-Montrose, Kevin Priola, R- Henderson, and Jack Tate, R-Centennial, were the Republican votes in support of the bill. On February 19th, the Colorado House passed House Bill 19-1129: Prohibit Conversion Therapy for Minors on a bipartisan 42-20 vote.  Representatives Colin Larson, R-Littleton, and Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, were the two Republican votes in support of the bill.

Additional statements from the bill sponsors and coalition partners:

“After sponsoring this bill for the past three years, I’m proud this will be the year we put an end to this harmful and deceptive practice. Being gay is not a mental illness and it does not need to be fixed.” – Majority Leader Steve Fenberg and Senate Prime Sponsor

“This bill is about allowing Coloradans to be their authentic selves. This dangerous practice harms children and falsely makes them believe that something is wrong with them through the use of shame, rejection and psychological abuse. We will finally put an end to a practice that makes these youths six times more likely to have depression and eight times more likely to attempt suicide.” – Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet and House Prime Sponsor

“We are talking about the lives of kids. This is a ‘therapy’ that has been proven to be dangerous and harmful. We have to start supporting our kids regardless of their sexuality or gender identity. They deserve so much better than this.”  – Representative Daneya Esgar, co-chair of the LGBTQ caucus.

“Our job, at the heart of the matter, is to help and not harm. Trust is everything – trust, that as a licensed healthcare provider, a child, teenager and their families know therapeutic help is supported by informed, scientifically-sound, best practices.” – Dr. Sarah Burgamy, Colorado Psychological Association Board of Directors

“Colorado is one step closer to protecting youth from the dangerous, debunked practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy.’ This is a critical step forward, and it will be especially meaningful to see the state’s first openly gay governor sign this bill into law when it comes across his desk.” – Marty Rouse, National Field Director, Human Rights Campaign.

“To hear LGBTQ contact The Trevor Project today not in crisis but in celebration is a testament of just how powerful this legislation is. No longer will the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy remain a state sanctioned threat for our most vulnerable youth. As state after state after state passes these common-sense and critically important protections for LGBTQ youth, let’s hope that these calls of celebration begin to outnumber the calls of crisis.” – Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project.

“An estimated 57K teenagers will go through conversion therapy in the next five years. With Governor Polis’s signature, making Colorado the 16th state to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy, we now know that we are saving thousands of youth out of harms way. Every youth in Colorado has the opportunity to know they are Born Perfect.”  – Mathew Shurka, Born Perfect Co-Founder

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