Bipartisan Group of WV Delegates Introduce the Youth Mental Health Protection Act

Proposal would ban licensed therapists from practicing or referring minors to conversion therapy

CHARLESTON, West Virginia — The Youth Mental Health Protection Act, a proposal to ban the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy, was introduced in the West Virginia House of Delegates Wednesday morning with bipartisan support.

Every major medical association has condemned the use of conversion therapy, and many state medical associations in West Virginia support the Youth Mental Health Protection Act.

“All of West Virginia’s children deserve love and respect for who they are, and our state’s licensed therapists shouldn’t be in the business of trying to change gay teenagers,” said Andrew Schneider, executive director of Fairness West Virginia. “Conversion therapy is a dangerous and discredited practice that just doesn’t work. It leads to higher rates of depression and suicide attempts, and it’s time for us to ban it.”

The bill, House Bill 3033, was referred to the House Health and Human Resources Committee. The lead sponsor is Del. Erikka Storch, R-Ohio. An identical version of the bill, Senate Bill 598, was introduced in the Senate earlier in the week. Fairness West Virginia called on legislative leaders to add the bill to an upcoming committee agenda.

“Our state’s LGBTQ youth continue to experience some of the highest rates of depression and suicide attempts in the entire country, and conversion therapy only exacerbates the mental health crisis we’re in,” Schneider said. “The research has been crystal clear for many years now: being gay is not a medical or mental health condition that needs fixing. Conversion therapy is in fact medical malpractice.”

House Bill 3033 is sponsored by four Republicans and four Democrats. In addition to Del. Storch, the Republican sponsors are Del. Ken Reed, Del. Diana Graves, and Del. Joshua Higginbotham. The Democratic sponsors are Del. Evan Hansen, Del. Cody Thompson, Del. John Doyle, and Del. Mick Bates.

Fairness West Virginia expects more delegates will sign on as sponsors to the bill and its companion in the Senate in the coming days and weeks.

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