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SL County Council: conversion therapy ‘should not happen in Utah’

The Republican-heavy Salt Lake County Council passed a proposed resolution, June 25, with complete support and with all members on the council agreeing conversion therapy is a practice that should not happen in Utah. The vote was unanimous to urge lawmakers to revive and pass a law that would have prohibited therapy attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBT minors.

Utah would have been the 16th state to ban conversion therapy, but the bill fizzled after lawmakers altered the bill, which included language that LGBT advocates believed would not stop conversion therapy. It never reached to a vote on the House floor.


“When so-called conversion therapy fails to work, Utahns told us of their feelings of despair,” Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, told the council before the vote. “They felt that they had failed their therapist, failed their church, failed their families and maybe even failed their God. That sense of failure and the lack of self worth, that’s the danger.”

County Councilman Arlyn Bradshaw, who co-sponsored the resolution said he finds the issue deeply personal.

He was 17 years old when he moved to Utah in the late 1990s, and coming to terms with his sexuality when he was asked if he wanted “therapy for my sexual orientation.”

“Not in a malicious way, but [the person thought] perhaps it could help me with what I was dealing with,” he told his colleagues on the council. “And I made the decision to turn down that offer. And to my family’s credit, I was not forced into anything at that time in my life. I often wonder how maybe my life would be different if I had undergone that.”

However, a smaller bright came to be as under Bradshaw’s recommendation, the council voted to develop a Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force in Salt Lake County.

“When so-called conversion therapy fails to work, Utahns told us of their feelings of despair,” Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, told the council before the vote. “They felt that they had failed their therapist, failed their church, failed their families and maybe even failed their God. That sense of failure and the lack of self worth, that’s the danger.”

More than a dozen states have banned certain counselors from trying to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of minors, and supporters of the legislation in Utah have framed a legal change as a potentially life-saving move.

Photo: Arlyn Bradshaw and Bella

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