The Mormon Church has officially come out in opposition to a Utah state bill that would ban the use of conversion therapy on minors.
In a recently released statement, the church wrote that it opposed proposed rules outlined in the Utah “Psychologist Licensing Act” and “Mental Health Professional Practice Act” because they “[fail] to protect individual religious beliefs and does not account for important realities of gender identity in the development of children.”
The church wrote, “We teach the right of individuals to self-determination and the right of parents to guide the development of their children. We also believe faith-based perspectives have an important and ethically appropriate role in professional counseling.”
So far 18 U.S. states have banned conversion therapy.
In February, 2019, the church said it wouldn’t oppose a state conversion therapy ban, but the bill being considered at the time died in the legislature. Now that legislators have drafted new bills at the behest of Gov. Gary Herbert (R), the church has gone against its earlier pledge not to interfere.
In a letter the church’s Family Services Department sent explaining its opposition to a ban, they wrote, “Regardless of a person’s sexual orientation, some behaviors related to or associated with sexual orientation can be destructive and psychologically unhealthy.”
These behaviors include young people watching explicit adult sexual content, feeling pressured to engage in sexual activities and prioritizing their sexual identity over other aspects of self.
The letter also says it wants to allow therapists to advise young people interested in transitioning genders to take a “wait-and-see approach” to see if their gender dysphoria goes away:
Given the rate of desistance [people who stop feeling gender dysphoria] and the serious health and psychological risks of medicalized approaches to gender dysphoria, Utah law and regulations should not expressly or implicitly favor therapies for minors that encourage gender transitioning or discourage therapies that take a wait-and-see approach for prepubescent clients.
The church claims it doesn’t support attempts to change anyone’s sexual or gender identity — something which every major psychological association calls an ineffective form of psychological abuse. Rather the church claims it merely wants to ensure that therapists won’t be punished for trying to lessen a patient’s negative experiences while coming to terms with their religion and sexual and gender identities.
In April, 2019, the Church changed some of its policies that alienated its LGBTQ congregants. The church’s official stance on homosexuality is that it’s not a sin, but that gay and bisexual people should either have sex within a heterosexual marriage or abstain from sex completely.
The Church also opposes the Equality Act which would enshrine LGBTQ non-discrimination protections nationwide.