In November 2018, Affirmation leadership met with Troy Williams, Executive Director of Equality Utah, to discuss a bill intended for the upcoming 2019 Utah Legislative session. This bill proposed banning conversion therapy practices on youth in the state. Affirmation then joined Equality Utah and numerous other LGBTQ advocacy groups in signing a commitment in support of legislation to forever halt this harmful practice.
We have now seen this proposed conversion therapy ban, HB399, severely amended and made ineffective by those who yet fail to grasp its importance in protecting our youth and their families. This ultimately prevented the progress of the bill in this legislative season.
Affirmation expresses disappointment at this turn of events. We remain deeply concerned for our LGBTQ youth vulnerable to this practice. #STILLHAPPENING.
Yet we feel optimistic looking forward.
Through the efforts of Equality Utah and many other organizations and individuals, this critical topic has finally received deserved attention. Important progress has been made both in the Utah Legislature and within the Governors’ office, including the Governor’s written apology and commitment “to make sure we develop good policy that protects our LGBTQ youth . . . and end abusive therapeutic practices in Utah.”
Affirmation is encouraged by the public’s increased understanding of the harm of conversion therapy. We remain hopeful that the education and support seen during this legislative session successfully propels the ban forward to its intended, lifesaving conclusion. We firmly believe that this effort must include both sexual orientation and gender identity because every LGBTQ life is way too important to be erased by legislative amendment.
As an organization, we see ourselves as highly motivated and patient educators in this cause to open minds and to change hearts. We will continue to work for the safety of our youth and their families. We affirm that LGBTQ youth and adults are not broken and do not need to be “changed” or “fixed” in any way from the beautiful souls that they are.
In conjunction with our 2019 International Conference, June 21-23 in Provo, Affirmation leadership will seek a meeting with the Governor and other legislative leaders to lay the groundwork for further legislative consideration.
Affirmation will not accept the status quo. We will not give up. We remain fully committed to the elimination of all harmful practices against our community, and will always be until every person is safe.