Over the last few weeks, many of our esteemed lawmakers have been busy introducing bills and reviewing them in committees in an attempt to change Oklahoma laws for the better, or in the case of House Bill 2973, for the worse.
In HB 2973, Representative Jim Olsen has introduced what he calls the “Parental and Family Rights in Counseling Protection Act.”
HB 2973 would prohibit the government from placing restrictions on the practice of conversion therapy-or as Olsen calls it “change therapy”- in the state. When defending his bill in the State Powers Committee meeting, which you can watch on the Oklahoma House of Representatives website here, Olson made such claims as:
The bill does not declare if conversion therapy is “good or bad,” but rather if Oklahomans should be allowed to seek conversion therapy as a service.
Drs. Paul Sullens and Michelle Critella have spoken out in favor of conversion or reparative therapy as effective tools for changing sexual orientation.
The American Psychological Association made a statement claiming that there is no research to suggest conversion therapy does harm.
But what Olson doesn’t tell you is:
Healthcare procedures are regulated to keep people safe from harmful practices. It’s probably not a good idea to let Oklahomans have ALL the free choice they want to in regards to what kind of medical treatment they get or else people might start visiting backyard castrating cannibals more than urologists when they need a vasectomy.
As stated in the meeting by Representative John Waldron, the referenced APA statement on conversion therapy is 13 years old. The Association has long since condemned the practice of conversion or reparative therapy due to A) its potential negative mental health consequences, including increased risk of depression and suicide and B) Sexual orientation cannot be changed. The bill doesn’t need to say whether conversion therapy is “good or bad.” Researchers and professionals already know it’s f*cking bad.
Olson also claimed in the committee meeting that so-called “change therapy” would only occur if all parties-the client, the therapist, and any relevant guardians-consented. Olsen clarified, stating that if a child did not consent to conversion therapy, even though the parents and therapist did, the child would not be subjected to conversion therapy. However, that stipulation is nowhere in the bill and as Oklahoma law now stands parents or guardians have the right to consent to outpatient mental health counseling on behalf of a child under the age of 18. That means that even if the kid doesn’t want to go through conversion therapy, they may not have a choice.
Instead of this bill granting Oklahomans the right to change their “homosexual lifestyle,” it would more likely sentence kids to misery. That is because sexual orientation cannot be changed and conversion therapies are more likely to lead a kid to become suicidal than heterosexual. At the end of the day if there is one “lifestyle” that should be changed, it should be that of the callous, bigoted, asshat Oklahoma lawmaker.