Iowa Board of Psychology Rejects Bid to Ban Gay Conversion Therapy

On Friday, the Iowa Board of Psychology voted to reject a petition calling for banning therapists and licensed counselors in the state from practicing so-called “conversion therapy,” which preys on vulnerable LGBT people and families by making dangerous and discredited claims that it can change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

The Associated Press reports that, “Iowa boards overseeing doctors and psychologists considered Friday whether to adopt a policy that would ban state-licensed professionals from counseling gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender children to change their sexual orientation in a practice known as conversion therapy.”

The Iowa Board of Psychology on Friday voted to deny a petition that would have prohibited Iowa licensed mental health providers from trying to reverse a patient’s sexual orientation, said board spokeswoman Sharon Dozier. She declined to discuss the reasons, saying the board will release its full decision later.

The petition submitted in February was signed by 695 people. It said a third of LGBTQ individuals report they were sent outside the home to a therapist or religious leader to “cure, treat or change their sexual orientation.”

On Friday, an Iowa Board of Medicine committee declined to take action on the ban. Committee Chairman Ronald Cheney said the group needs further study before making a recommendation to the full board.

The board, which licenses and regulates medical doctors in Iowa, was also petitioned in February. The board denied the petition in April, saying it needed more information and assigned the four-member committee to study it.

The issue has become controversial, and the Obama administration in April called for an end to the practice.

Seventeen states have considered laws that would prohibit conversion therapy.

A group of pastors is suing Illinois over its law, contending in a Thursday filing that the prohibition violates free speech and religious rights.

Illinois’ law applies to therapists and other licensed counselors, but the portion of the law that concerns pastors makes anyone liable for consumer fraud if they practice or advertise conversion therapy that portrays homosexuality as a mental disorder.

The Iowa Senate passed a bill earlier this year, but it was not considered in the House.