Conversion therapy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender minors could soon be outlawed in Oregon. The Eugene Weekly reported Thursday that the state's Legislature is making moves to stop psychologists from using the treatment, which aims to change LGBT youth's sexual orientation or gender. The Oregon House passed HB 2307, also known as the Youth Mental Health Protection Act, this week, and the state Senate will consider it next.
"Oregon should ban this fraudulent practice,” state Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, told the Portland Tribune. "Conversion therapy is based on the deeply flawed premise that because of your sexual orientation, you must have a mental disorder and be in need of professional help. We know that concept is not only ridiculous but incredibly offensive."
Basic Rights Oregon, a nonprofit that argues conversion therapy can harm LGBT youth, backed the bill. In a news release on its website earlier this year, the group referenced the December suicide of transgender Ohio teen Leelah Alcorn, who allegedly killed herself after being forced into conversion therapy by her parents. Leelah's Tumblr suicide note went viral, prompting an outpouring of support and a White House petition calling for a federal ban on the treatment plan. Currently, it's outlawed only in California, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.
Western Oregon University student Alyssa Chiampi, who identifies as pangender, gave the state House a closer-to-home anecdote. When she came out in December, Chiampi told the lawmakers, her mother sent her to conversion therapy -- what she called a "step backward." "I know people that are scared of coming out to their parents because they know their parents will make them go to conversion therapy," Chiampi said. "This bill would have been my backbone in order to stand up to my mom, to say that I wasn’t going to go."
Oregon isn't the only state considering a conversion therapy ban for people under 18. The Iowa Senate and Colorado House have passed similar bills within the past week, according to the New Civil Rights Movement. An Illinois House committee has also recently pushed back against the practice.