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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon House Approves Ban On 'Conversion Therapy' For Youth

M.O. Stevens
Wikimedia -

Oregon lawmakers gave initial approval Tuesday to a bill that would ban so-called "conversion therapy" on youth.

That’s the term given to the idea that counseling can convince someone to change their sexual orientation. Democratic Representative Rob Nosse said the message to LGBT teens with this measure is that there is nothing wrong with them.

It's a message Nosse wishes he had heard when he came out more than 20 years ago.

"I did think there was something wrong with me,” he said. “Candidly, knowing what many of my friends and my family thought about homosexuality back in 1991, I became pretty depressed about the prospect of being gay."

Supporters of the ban say teens who have undergone conversion therapy have higher rates of depression, substance abuse and suicide. The practice has been discredited by mainstream mental health organizations.

Opponents of the bill say they worry about the rights of religious groups.

The bill now heads to the Oregon Senate. Similar measures were introduced in the Washington House and Senate. The House version died without a hearing. In the Senate, the bill was amended to ban certain methods of therapy on teens, but still allows practitioners to attempt to change the sexual orientation of their clients. It's awaiting action in the Washington House.