OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – House Bill 2973, a bill that will allow LGBTQ+ youth to receive Change Allowing Therapy, was passed through the House State Powers Committee on Wednesday.
It was authored by Representative Jim Olsen, R-District 2, who said the bill, “protects the rights of the young person involved, the therapist or Christian counselor, and parents to move forward with this counseling if all parties are in favor of it.”
The bill will allow young people who have “experimented with homosexuality” or those with “gender dysphoria” to seek the help of therapists to change their sexual preferences, said Rep. Olsen.
Some committee members expressed concern with the bill, citing extreme therapy practices that have been used on LGBTQ+ individuals.
“Conversion Therapy, in many peoples’ minds, is associated with electric shock, torture, pornography. None of those things are allowed under this bill,” said Rep. Olsen. “This bill gives no protection to those kind of things.”
The bill’s language states, “no part of the Parental and Family Rights in Counseling Protection Act may be used as justification by parents, legal guardians, mental health providers, or religious advisors to subject patients or clients to aversion therapy for the purpose of changing sexual behaviors or gender-identity expressions, to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex, or to reduce or eliminate gender dysphoria.”
Rep. Olsen reiterated that this bill is simply for those in which all three parties agree on the therapy to be used: the minor, the parents and the counselor.
“The common sense to it is that if we don’t want the therapy, it’s not going to help us, no matter how great it may be for other people. So no, there’s no force involved,” said Rep. Olsen. “If the young person doesn’t want it, they can choose their lifestyle, whatever that may be.”
The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ youth, sent a statement to KFOR, condemning the House committee for passing HB2973.
“We are disheartened to see Oklahoma lawmakers open this legislative session by endorsing the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion ‘therapy’,” said Troy Stevenson (he/him pronouns), Senior Advocacy Campaign Manager for The Trevor Project. “Research from The Trevor Project is clear: LGBTQ youth who are subjected to this harmful practice were more than twice as likely to report having attempted suicide in the past year. Even further, so-called conversion therapy has been debunked by every major medical association. We urge Oklahoma lawmakers to take a clear stance in protecting LGBTQ youth – and put a stop to this bill.”
HB2973 passed in the House State Powers Committee with a 5-1 vote. The only nay came from Rep. John Waldron, D-District 77. The bill will now advance to the House floor.