The state legislature is being asked to join 9 other states and the District of Columbia by banning licensed therapists from trying to turn gay and transgender Missourians into heterosexual ones. State Rep. Tracy McCreery, D-Olivette, tells Missourinet the practice called “Conversion Therapy” can be damaging to individuals trying to deal with their sexuality.

State Rep. Tracy McCreery, D-Olivette, speaks on the Missouri House floor in April 2017 (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

“I sound kind of Pollyanna-ish, but I actually do think this (bill) could save some young people’s lives,” says McCreery. “The data on LGBTQ youth who commit suicide is staggering. When kids don’t feel loved and supported by their families, they are like eight times more likely to commit suicide. We already have a problem with teen suicide.”

According to McCreery, data shows the ex-gay methods have led to depression, substance overuse and suicide among the LGBT community. She says the focus should be on helping clients handle their feelings – not attempting to end their same-sex attraction.

“What families need to remember is that there’s nothing going on that needs to be fixed or cured,” McCreery says. “One of my big goals is for LGBTQ youth to not feel rejected by their family and if that means the whole family goes to counseling and talks to a licensed professional who’s using best practices, then I think that can help.”

McCreery’s bill focuses on those under 18 years of age. It would not ban religious groups from using the anti-LGBTQ measures which often include prayer and counseling.

“I’m not trying to get out of my lane. I’m not going to go after churches or other groups that might be doing this kind of thing. I’m just focusing on what I believe that my colleagues and I in the state legislature have some control over,” says McCreery. “It’s kind of a conservative Missouri-based approach to this problem.”

The prominence of such interventions in Missouri is unknown but McCreery says they are going on in the Show-Me State.

According to PROMO, a statewide organization advocating for LGBTQ equality, the techniques used in such conversion techniques include shaming, hypnosis, inducing vomiting and electric shock.

“This type of therapy, or so-called therapy, if you will, there’s not any kind of medical or mental health group out there that thinks this is a healthy way to treat people,” McCreery says.

The conversion tactics have been condemned by the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association, American Psychiatric Association, American School Counselor Association, National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Social Workers.

In 2016, the Republican Party adopted a national platform that says parents should determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children.