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VA Delegate Aims to Regulate "Conversion Therapy" for Minors - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

VA Delegate Aims to Regulate "Conversion Therapy" for Minors

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Patrick Hope Patrick Hope

Democratic lawmakers are taking aim at so-called "conversion therapy," which is an attempt to change a person's sexual orientation. Arlington Delegate Patrick Hope wants to prohibit licensed health professionals from offering conversion therapy to minors.

Similar laws are now on the books in California and New Jersey, but this is the first time it's come up in Virginia.

The bill would prohibit licensed health professionals from offering sexual orientation change efforts - often called conversion or reparation therapy - with the goal of changing a minor's sexual orientation. It would not prevent adults from seeking such therapy, or members of the clergy from ministering to families.

Apryl Prentiss sought conversion therapy in her early twenties. She hopes the bill will help protect gay and lesbian minors.

"Meeting by meeting it was a constant progression of fighting who I was on a basic level," said Apryl Prentiss. "This bill is aimed at protecting those who are in a much more vulnerable state than I am emotionally, physically and developmentally."

Not everyone is thrilled with the idea. Conservatives say the bill oversteps its bounds, and would impede on the rights of families and therapists to make independent decisions.

It's unlikely this bill will go anywhere this year. It is currently assigned to a very conservative subcommittee in the House of Delegates, where the measure will almost certainly meet its end. The bill's patron recognizes this, but says it's about starting a conversation.

Delegate Hope Statement on Legislation Prohibiting "Conversion Therapy" in Virginia

Richmond - Today, Delegate Patrick A. Hope (D-Arlington) held a press conference in support of HB 1135. Delegate Hope introduced HB 1135, a bill that would prohibit performing conversion therapy (also call "reparation therapy") on minors by a licensed health care professional. Joining Delegate Hope were advocates from Equality Virginia, Alliance for Progressive Values, People of Faith For Equality in Virginia as well as two victims who testified as to their personal experiences with conversion therapy.

At the press conference, Delegate Hope said, "Conversion therapy is based on the false assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder or a sin. Well, it is not. There is no on/off switch to sexual orientation."

Delegate Hope continued, "It is very clear that organized psychiatry maintains that sexual orientation is not changeable, that conversion therapies do irreparable harm, and that conversion therapies should not be practiced in the Commonwealth of Virginia."

Delegate Hope concluded, "I believe our government has the duty and an obligation to, at a minimum, protects our children from the dangers of conversion therapy. This bill seeks to do just that."

Patrick A. Hope is a Member of the Virginia General Assembly as the Delegate from the 47th District representing part of Arlington County. He serves on the House Health, Welfare, and Institutions, Courts of Justice, and Militia, Police and Public Safety Committees.

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