Utah psychologist board approves draft rule regulating conversion therapy

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Psychologist Licensing Board has approved a draft rule that would govern the practice of conversion therapy on LGBTQ children in the state.

The board posted the rule on Thursday, which would prohibit any effort to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of anyone under 18. Any psychologist found to be doing so would fall under “unprofessional conduct” and could face sanctions, including loss of license.

The board will next hold a 30-day public comment period on the proposed rule before adopting it.

FOX 13 first reported last month that Governor Gary Herbert issued a rare directive to Utah’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing to regulate conversion therapy, a practice that has been widely discredited. Activists have linked efforts to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity to a high youth suicide rate in Utah, particularly among LGBTQ teens.

A bill was introduced in the Utah State Legislature earlier this year, but it imploded when more conservative members of the House amended it to the point the sponsor said he could not support his own bill. That prompted protests and an apology from the governor to LGBTQ rights activists over how it was handled politically.

The governor’s directive goes around the legislature, but some supporters still hope to run a bill to make a conversion therapy ban law.

In a statement to FOX 13 on Thursday night, the governor’s office seemed pleased with the move.

“Gov. Herbert and Lt. Governor Cox are grateful to the Utah Psychologist Licensing Board for their efforts and dedication to use scientific expertise and best practices in drafting this new rule. They feel strongly that matters of psychological intervention should be governed by science, not politics, and look forward to the rule making its way through the approval and public comment processes,” the statement read.

Read the proposed rule here:

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