A bill that would ban the controversial practice of conversion therapy in Oklahoma clears its first hurdle. 

Conversion therapy is the widely discredited practice of trying to convert gay or bisexual people, straight. House Bill 3872 would ban it among licensed therapists.

The House Committee on Children, Youth and Family Services voted 10-4 to advance House Bill 3872 to the full House of Representatives.  If it becomes law, Oklahoma would become the 20th state in the nation to pass such a measure.

“We’re especially excited that they’re voting to protect LGBTQ youth. Children deserve our protection the most and the legislature has taken an important step forward,” said Allie Shinn of Freedom Oklahoma.

“42 percent of LGBTQ youth that had been forced into conversion therapy attempted suicide,” said Representative Jason Dunnington (D) Oklahoma City. “These are the reasons why we need to step forward and put these protections in place.”

Conversion therapy has been widely discredited by the scientific community, including the American Medical Association, The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.   

“Every major medical association says it doesn’t work and it harms children. That alone ought to be the end of the conversation. When the medical community says look this thing hurts children then we have an obligation to make sure that people aren’t subjected to it.”  Shinn said.

The bill passed with bipartisan support.

“It’s not a controversy,” said Troy Stevenson with The Trevor Project “This is a bipartisan vote. This isn’t a partisan issue. This is an issue of protecting the most vulnerable youth in Oklahoma.”

The bill would only affect licensed counselors, not religious organizations.