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The DOJ delivers the Comey memos to Congress. Also on our rundown: More evidence that rent prices are out of reach in many markets; Wisconsin counties brace for sulfide mining; and the Earth Day focus this weekend in North Dakota is on recycling.

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Ban on Conversion Therapy Clears Colorado House

A new bill to protect minors from conversion therapy cleared the Colorado House on Thursday. According to the group One Colorado, LGBT youth are six times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. (Pixabay)
A new bill to protect minors from conversion therapy cleared the Colorado House on Thursday. According to the group One Colorado, LGBT youth are six times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. (Pixabay)
March 18, 2016

DENVER - A bill that would ban mental-health professionals licensed in Colorado from engaging in so-called "conversion therapy" with a patient younger than age 18 is headed to the state Senate after clearing the House on Thursday.

Laura Reinsch, political director for the group One Colorado, praised the move and said the practice of trying to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity has been widely discredited.

"Every mainstream mental-health and medical professional association has rejected the view as scientifically valid," she said. "They all advise that parents, guardians, young people and their families avoid sexual-orientation change efforts that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or a developmental disorder."

Opponents of the legislation, House Bill 1210, have claimed the law would impact a family's ability to choose treatment. During committee hearings, Reinsch noted that Reps. Kathleen Conti, R-Littleton, and Timothy Leonard, R-Evergreen, consistently compared homosexuality to substance abuse and alcoholism.

The American Psychiatric Association dropped homosexuality from its classification as a mental disorder in 1973 and has found that when therapists act out prejudices against gay people during treatment, it can reinforce self-hatred frequently experienced by patients. Reinsch said young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Coloradans are six times more likely to attempt suicide than are their straight peers, and conversion therapy can be dangerous.

"It puts them more at risk for depression, substance abuse and suicide," she said. "It also often just makes them feel ashamed, and that's not something that we should be doing to young people in our state. They should be accepted for who they are."

A similar bill died in the Senate last year after being assigned to the State Affairs Committee, which Reinsch called a "kill committee." She said she's hopeful that the new measure will be heard by the Health and Human Services Committee and is confident that, if the bill makes it to the Senate floor, it will pass.

The text of HB 1210 is online at leg.state.co.us.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO