Mass. house bill banning conversion therapy for children to be presented Tuesday

BOSTON — Massachusetts lawmakers are hoping third time's a charm when it comes to a controversial bill that would make conversion therapy illegal for kids and teens, because two previous attempts have stalled in committee.

Also known as reparative therapy, conversion therapy is the counseling for people with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.

Opponents of the bill say it would be detrimental to parental rights, and even goes against the constitution.

"I think the people that brought the bill up probably mean well, but I think it's an overreach,” said Tim Nee, who underwent reparative therapy as a teen. "I was experiencing the homosexual desires.”

Nee says he was robbed of his innocence at a young age, and talks about how that was a contributing factor to his same-sex desires. He said the counseling helped him overcome those feelings.

“It made it easy to live with yourself, to be at peace with yourself, to be at peace with others,” he said.

Massachusetts House Bill 1190 would prohibit that type of counseling. It reads in part: "Under no circumstances shall a licensed professional advertise for or engage in sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts with a patient less than 18 years of age."

The bill is sponsored by Representative Kay Khan (D-Newton), who says it’s designed to protect young people.

“This practice is harmful to the mental and physical health of minors,” she said. "We want to make sure they're in a healthy and medically-sound situation that doesn't foster an environment of prejudice and discrimination.”

Some opponents, however, say it accomplishes the exact opposite.

"It's a real attack on parental rights, freedom of speech, religious liberty," said Andrew Beckwith, President of the Massachusetts Family Institute.

Beckwith said one of the issues with this bill, unlike others that have passed nationwide, is that it would classify conversion therapy as child abuse. He cites an example of a gender confused girl.

"If this law were to pass, if that same young woman was counseled to literally feel comfortable in her own skin that would be labeled child abuse and she could be taken out of the home,” he said.

Rep. Khan will present the bill in a committee hearing Tuesday.

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