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Geiger Counter: Ohio legislators, protect our state's youth. Ban conversion therapy.

Despite recent strides, there is still a giant elephant in the room when discussing LGBT freedoms. A practice that is legal in 30 states has taken numerous lives and traumatized many more. The elephant is LGBT conversion therapy, and, more specifically, its remaining legality for minors.

On February 12th, 23 Ohio state representatives, two republicans and 21 democrats, introduced House Bill 503. The bill would “protect minors by prohibiting certain licensed health care professionals from engaging in conversion therapy when treating minor patients.”

HB 503 is separate from the “Protect Vulnerable Children Act,” which seeks to prevent doctors from performing gender identity procedures.

Conversely, HB 503 focuses on practices that coerce individuals to alter and change expressions of their sexual and gender identities.

It is imperative that the Ohio government does its part and enacts this legislation. Doing so would protect the many young LGBT individuals across the Buckeye State from the torment and trauma that conversion therapy induces. 

The experiences of those who have undergone conversion therapy are brutal and barbaric. Some, like Sam Brinton, the head of advocacy and government affairs at the Trevor Project, had experiences so extreme, his counselor told him “that I was the abomination we had heard about in Sunday school; that I was the only gay person in the world; that it was inevitable I would get H.I.V. and AIDS.”

“But it didn’t stop with these hurtful talk-therapy sessions,” Brinton wrote. “The therapist ordered me bound to a table to have ice, heat and electricity applied to my body. I was forced to watch clips on a television of gay men holding hands, hugging and having sex. I was supposed to associate those images with the pain I was feeling to once and for all turn into a straight boy. In the end it didn’t work. I would say that it did, just to make the pain go away.”

Beyond Brinton, hundreds of thousands of others have undergone similar barbaric and backward practices. According to a recent study by the Williams Institute, nearly 350,000 adults underwent conversion therapy as a minor. 

Some of their experiences are local…and deadly. 

Take Leelah Alcorn for example, who I wrote about in November of last year. Alcorn was an Ohio native who was born male but identified as female. Her parents stifled her gender expression and  sent her to the same type of conversion therapy outlined above. As a result, Alcorn tragically took her own life at the young age of 17.

There are no words that I can write to adequately summarize the pain Brinton, Alcorn and so many others have felt as a result of this practice. And while it’s understandable that the science behind gender and sexual expression is still in its infancy, that shouldn’t stop us from seeing the humanity in one another.

We are a free people in a free country, HB 503 is an extension of such. If you’re an Ohio state legislator, pass this bill. Please do it for your constituents, and for people like Brinton and Alcorn.

Matthew Geiger is a freshman studying economics at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Matthew? Tweet him @Mattg444. 

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