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Local Opinion: Reversing conversion therapy ban harms LGBTQ+ children
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Local Opinion: Reversing conversion therapy ban harms LGBTQ+ children

The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer:

In 2017, Pima County made the bold and inclusive decision to ban conversion therapy for LBGTQ+ minors — or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer minors — becoming the first of Arizona’s 15 counties to ban the discriminatory practice.

This forward-thinking ban was a win for Southern Arizona, but state legislation recently introduced by my state senator, Vince Leach, would take us back to the days in which our children and youth are subjected to discredited and harmful reparative therapy.

As written, Senate Bill 1269 would prohibit local jurisdictions from regulating health-care professionals. Specifically, this means Pima County’s conversion therapy ban would be reversed and any future local bans on conversion therapy would be outlawed statewide.

Being LGBTQ+ is not a mental illness or disorder, but that’s exactly what conversion therapy suggests.

As a licensed psychologist, I join the nation’s leading medical organizations in opposing this practice, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of School Psychologists, the American Counseling Association, and the American Medical Association.

My clinical specialty is trauma with marginalized populations. I know firsthand that bringing back conversion therapy in Pima County will only subject people to damaging treatment and discrimination. It will result in more depression, anxiety, substance abuse and isolation — inequities that we’ve all worked so terribly hard to overcome.

Our LGBTQ+ children and youth must be welcomed, accepted, and loved. It’s why I’m focused on creating opportunity for them as a proud board member of the LGBTQ+ Alliance Fund, a volunteer organization that has funded nearly $1 million to local queer programs and initiatives since 1999.

If passed, Senate Bill 1269 is a direct affront to our decades of work to build an inclusive and representative Southern Arizona. I urge state lawmakers to reject this harmful and discriminatory legislation.

In 2021, our LGBTQ+ loved ones are part of every community, family, school, and workplace. We owe it to them to embrace them as they are: one of us.

Dr. Kimberly Kotov, a licensed clinical psychologist, is a board member of the LGBTQ+ Alliance Fund, an initiative of the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona.

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