In a statement released Tuesday night, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said it opposes a proposed rule to ban therapy that seeks to change sexual orientation of minors. It is urging the State of Utah not to adopt the ban.
The statement has been submitted to the state and released to the public in response to proposed state regulations that would prohibit Utah psychologists from practicing so-called conversion therapy on LGBTQ minors. It received an early nod of approval from the state's licensing board in July.
Earlier in 2019 during the state's legislative session a bill banning conversion therapy was introduced but was drastically amended so that the sponsor of the bill no longer supported it. The church did not object to the bill but some lawmakers did.
The church said in part in its statement Tuesday:
We teach the right of individuals to self-determination and the right of parents to guide the development of their children. We also believe faith-based perspectives have an important and ethically appropriate role in professional counseling.
Equality Utah, that seeks to protect LGBTQ+ rights responded on Twitter.
Let's be clear. Studies have found that more than 60% of children subjected to conversion therapy attempt suicide. It's long past time to protect youth from this dangerous practice.
The statement from the church said it respectfully requests that the proposed rule be amended to address concerns raised by the organization's own Family Services arm.
In June Gov. Gary Herbert called for new rules after hearing reports about conversion therapy. In March, after the proposed bill banning the practice failed, Troy Williams of Equality Utah quit the governor's suicide prevention task force and said "Equality Utah will not be window dressing," while claiming Herbert had turned his back on LGBTQ youth.
The full statement of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints follows:
"The Church hopes that those who experience same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria find compassion and understanding from family members, Church leaders and members, and professional counselors. The Church denounces any abusive professional practice or treatment.
"We teach the right of individuals to self-determination and the right of parents to guide the development of their children. We also believe faith-based perspectives have an important and ethically appropriate role in professional counseling.
"As detailed in the comments submitted by Family Services, the Church is concerned that the proposed professional licensing rule is ambiguous in key areas and overreaches in others. For example, it fails to protect individual religious beliefs and does not account for important realities of gender identity in the development of children.
"We therefore oppose the proposed rule in its current form and respectfully request that it be appropriately amended to address the concerns raised in Family Services’ comments, or that Utah’s lawmakers provide statutory guidance on this important issue."
The American Psychiatry Association opposes the practice and reiterated its position in 2018.
The American Psychiatric Association does not believe that same-sex orientation should or needs to be changed, and efforts to do so represent a significant risk of harm by subjecting individuals to forms of treatment which have not been scientifically validated and by undermining self-esteem when sexual orientation fails to change. No credible evidence exists that any mental health intervention can reliably and safely change sexual orientation; nor, from a mental health perspective does sexual orientation need to be changed.
The AMA has called on lawmakers to ban the practice as more than a dozen states have.
The practice is also opposed by other professional organizations including:
- American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry
- American Medical Association
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
- World Psychiatric Association