While denouncing any abusive treatment or methods, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement Tuesday addressing concerns about a proposed rule banning conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors in Utah.
The rule would prohibit mental health therapists from providing conversion therapy guaranteed to completely and permanently reverse a client’s sexual orientation, along with using electric shock or physical discomfort as treatment.
LDS officials stated youth who experience “same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria” should be treated with compassion and understanding from family members, professional counselors and church members and leaders.
“The Church denounces any abusive professional practice or treatment,” the statement read. “We teach the right of individuals to self-determination and the right of parents to guide the development of their children.”
Leaders stated concerns that the proposed rule is too ambiguous in certain areas and too overarching in others, including failing to protect individual religious beliefs.
The rule does not account for important realities of gender identity in children’s development, according to the press release.
Instead of the proposed rule, church officials proposed legislative action as an alternate route as stated in the statement and a letter from the church’s counseling services to the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing.
“We therefore oppose the proposed rule in its current form and respectfully request that it be appropriately amended to address the concerns raised in Family Services’ comments, or that Utah’s lawmakers provide statutory guidance on this important issue,” the statement reads.
Practices or treatments that are neutral to gender identity or sexual orientation, allowing the client to decide how to self-identify and providing acceptance and understanding of a client’s religious beliefs, are all upheld by the proposed ruling.
The ruling does not apply to a clergy member acting in a pastoral or religious capacity instead of a mental health therapist or parents or grandparents employed as mental health therapists counseling related children or grandchildren.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert asked the state regulators in June to create new rules for conversion therapy after a bill addressing the practice died in the legislature.
The AP reported 18 states have enacted laws banning or restricting conversion therapy opposed by the American Psychological Association.