TULSA - A bill introduced on Monday would ban conversion therapy for minors, and if passed, would keep medical and mental health professionals from trying to change a child or teenager's sexual orientation or gender identity.
House Bill 2456 also includes efforts to eliminate romantic attractions or feelings towards another person of the same sex.
However, the bill does allow children to receive counseling or mental health services that provide acceptance and support.
Toby Jenkins runs Oklahomans for Equality, a Tulsa group serving the LGBTQ community.
He said he's been through conversion therapy and it didn't work for him.
"They just assured me that if I would just get married, I could fix that and all those feelings would just go away," Jenkins said. "I did that and it didn't fix it."
Jenkins said he hears horror stories from those he helps and many who were rejected from their own families.
"It's because of this whole perception that sexual orientation is, that you can change it, and you can flip in and out, and that's simply not true," Jenkins said.
"No credible therapist would treat, would force a child into change therapy, especially if they're saying they don't want to be there," said David Pickup. "I've actually turned kids away."
Pickup practices reintegrative therapy, a technique he said heals old wounds, resolving the causes of homosexuality.
Pickup said the therapy does work on his clients who need it for unresolved issues like childhood sexual abuse.
"So, can you imagine the Oklahoma state representatives and legislatures approving a bill to ban therapy for children who have unwanted same sex attraction caused by pedophiles or in many case older teens?" said Pickup.
If the bill passes, any providers who violate the law could face disciplinary action by the provider's licensing board.
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