Conversion therapy, more accurately known as sexual orientation change efforts, is a type of counseling that aims to change the client’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Not only is this type of counseling ineffective, it sends a message to the client and others that one’s orientation or gender identity is a problem that needs to be fixed.
A bill prohibiting mental health professionals from practicing this unethical model on clients under the age of 18 has come up several times in the Iowa legislature, including this year, but has yet to be passed.
Studies indicate that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other queer youth who do not feel supported by those close to them are more likely to suffer from substance abuse, depression and suicidal behavior than those who feel accepted.
Many professional organizations, such as the American Psychological Association and National Association of Social Workers, amongst others, have come out against this intervention, and a practitioner following these codes of ethics would never dream of providing this type of therapy, especially to minors. Why, then, does Iowa law not follow this same standard?
I call for all people who care about LGBTQ rights, the mental health of Iowa youth, and a young person’s freedom to be themselves to contact their legislators now and in the future, encouraging them to reintroduce legislation related to prohibiting this harmful practice, and to vote for such a bill to finally be passed, to provide a safer environment for the next generation of Iowans.