Gov. Herbert proposes new rule to ban conversion therapy on minors

Utah Capitol 06

Gov. Gary R. Herbert has directed the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, Utah Department of Commerce, to file a new rule to ban conversion therapy on minors in the state of Utah. The rule uses language from H.B. 399, presented by Rep. Craig Hall during the 2019 General Legislative Session, and will apply to all licensed therapists practicing in Utah.

The rule is backed by a wide variety of public leaders, organizations, and policy groups, who are united in supporting this critical effort to end the harmful practice of conversion therapy on minors. 

This development brings resolution to conflicts surrounding technical language and comes after an exhaustive process. Since the public comment period closed, DOPL has been immersed in considering all 2,465 individual comments submitted regarding the first draft of a rule regulating conversion therapy. Since that time, the governor’s office has worked with a number of stakeholders with input on specific, technical aspects of the language in the rule.

“I have learned much through this process. The stories of youth who have endured these so-called therapies are heart-rending, and I’m grateful that we have found a way forward that will ban conversion therapy forever in our state,” Gov. Herbert said. “I’m grateful to the many stakeholders who came to the table in good faith, with never-ending patience. I’m also grateful  to the dedicated board members at DOPL for their work that enabled us to come together to craft this rule.” 

“The governor went through a robust rulemaking process. He took public comments, listened to stakeholders and found common ground,” said Stuart Adams, president of the Utah Senate. “I’m pleased that we have reached this solution.”

“I am grateful we have developed language that both prohibits conversion therapy and also protects the legitimate interests of healthcare professionals, patients and families,” said Rep. Craig Hall. “I urge adoption of the proposed rule so we can end conversion therapy once and for all in this state.”

“We are profoundly grateful to Governor Herbert and the Psychologist Licensing Board for the thoughtful and meticulous manner in which they have worked to protect LGBTQ+ youth from conversion therapy,” said Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah. “We are pleased that the new rule will mirror the legislation that was drafted and introduced earlier this year. We have no doubt the adoption of this rule will send a life-saving message to LGBTQ+ youth across our state.”

“On this Thanksgiving week, I’m grateful that this new rule will protect Utah’s LGBTQ+ children and minors by banning conversion therapy,” said Stephenie Larsen, chief executive officer of Encircle. “We fully support its adoption, and believe this is the best way forward.” 

“We are opposed to conversion therapy and our therapists do not practice it. However, we are grateful for the clarifications the new rule provides, and we support its adoption,” said Marty Stephens, director of government relations for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “We thank the governor, his staff and the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing for finding a good solution which will work for all concerned.”

“I’m very proud of the Psychologist Licensing Board, and all involved boards, for their dedicated work on this topic,” said Francine Giani, executive director of the Department of Commerce, which houses the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. “Their excellent work laid the foundation to bring stakeholders together, and enabled them to rally around the carefully crafted and effective language of H.B. 399.” 

DOPL is working to file the rule, which will be published on Dec. 15. The 30-day public comment period will end on Jan. 14, 2020. The new rule could be effective as early as Jan. 22, 2020.