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Proposed bill aims to outlaw LGBT conversion therapy for minors in Nevada

LGBT Laws | Courtesy MGN

A bill introduced this legislative session would ban conversion therapy for minors in Nevada. SB 201 would make it illegal for any doctor or health provider to perform the controversial treatment on any child under the age of 18.

Supporters of the bill believe, if passed, the law could save the lives of LGBT children in the Silver State.

"Practitioners have moved to Clark County after the conversion therapy law ban went into effect in California." It's not widely publicized, but transgender advocate Brooke Maylath said conversion therapy is happening in the state of Nevada.

Maylath is the president of Transgender Allies Group. She said conversion therapy programs are "marketed to parents that, 'We'll be able to fix your child and they will become heterosexual by the end of this process.'"

SB 201 defines conversion therapy as "any practice or treatment that seeks to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a person...

Decades ago, patients were subject to methods like electric shock therapy, physical beating, and shocking of the genitals. "Today it is based around a pseudo talk therapy."

Maylath said doctors who perform conversion therapy today try to redirect patients sexual urges; "to focus more on more masculine types of roles or activities, even though that person is not comfortable doing them."

She said these treatments violate a doctor's oath to 'do no harm.' In fact, Maylath believes conversion therapy is a form of child abuse. "When we look at the definition of what child abuse is in Nevada Revised Statutes, it is knowingly causing mental or emotional harm to a child. That is exactly what conversion therapy does."

Many medical professionals believe it doesn't work. "The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association all have professional opinions that conversion therapy does not work and only causes harm and should not be performed."

People who oppose SB 201 believe it takes rights away from parents who want their children to undergo conversion therapy and contradicts some religious beliefs.

However, supporters of the bill are trying to save lives. Brooke Maylath said, "we often see suicides. We see self-mutilation, cuttings. We see engagement in risky behavior because they don't care about themselves anymore because they've been told that they're wrong, that they're evil, that they're demonic for having these urges."

Eight other states have already passed similar laws, banning conversion therapy. SB 201 has already passed the Nevada Senate. The Assembly Health and Human Services committee first heard the bill on Wednesday afternoon.

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