House Bill 2456. Partially ban Conversion Therapy in Oklahoma.
"The practice of trying to change a child's sexual orientation has a history of negative consequences. Including but not limited to depression, suicide, feeling dehumanized, self-loathing, self-harm, loss of friends, guilt, and hopelessness," Representative Jason Dunnington, D-Oklahoma says.
What is Conversion Therapy?
Conversion therapy, sometimes referred to as "reparative therapy," uses several dangerous and discredited practices aimed at changing an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity. Conversion therapists use a variety of shaming, emotionally traumatic or physically painful stimuli to make their victims associate those stimuli with their LGBTQ identities.
Depictions of Conversion Therapy in Media
Boy Erased. A movie depicting the life of a young college student struggling with his sexual orientation. It follows Jared, the son of Baptist parents who are forced to take part in a gay conversion therapy program. Weeks into his therapy, Jared gets to know the other attendees also seeking to become straight.
United States Numbers on Conversion Therapy
The states of New Jersey (2013), California (2013), Oregon (2015), Illinois (2016), Vermont (2016), New Mexico (2017), Connecticut (2017), Rhode Island (2017), Nevada (2018), Washington (2018), Hawaii (2018), Delaware (2018), Maryland (2018), New Hampshire (2019), New York (2019), and Massachusetts (2019), as well as the District of Columbia (2015) and Puerto Rico (2019) ban the use of conversion therapy on minors. Now it's Oklahoma's turn. Dunnington said he thinks the main reason many states have not banned conversion therapy is due to lack of education. "It's one of those things that if you never heard about it, or didn't know anything about it, then it would never be on your radar," Dunnington said.
Oklahoma's Stance on Conversion Therapy
In the Sooner State, Conversion Therapy of minors is LEGAL. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Oklahoma and both same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples have been legal since October 2014. The state does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, leaving an estimated 62,000 LGBT workers in Oklahoma vulnerable to employment discrimination.
University of Oklahoma Connection
A University of Oklahoma professor has drafted a bill to ban therapists from subjecting LGBTQ youth to conversion therapy. Human relations professor Sage Mauldin started the process to get conversion therapy banned about two years ago, and the final language for the legislation was filed January 17th. Mauldin says the bill is the result of years of research and consultation with survivors of conversion therapy. The bill is going to be sponsored by Democratic Representative Jason Dunnington.