By Joe Killian
Last week, Democratic lawmakers filed The Mental Health Protection Act – a bill that would outlaw so-called “conversion” therapy that attempts to “cure” young people of being lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
This week, a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling and commissioned by Equality NC and the Campaign for Southern Equality reveals that a supermajority of Republicans (87 percent), Democrats (75 percent) and Independents (78 percent) support outlawing the therapy in young people.
Overall, 80 percent of all polled respondents said they think “conversion therapy” purporting to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity should be illegal when performed on someone under 18. That number went up when given more information about the specifics of conversion therapy.
“Republicans and Democrats agree, it is time to protect North Carolina’s children from so-called ‘conversion therapy’ practices,” said Equality NC Executive Director Kendra R. Johnson. “It’s rare that we find bipartisan support around an issue in North Carolina, but I think we can all agree that we want the safest and healthiest future for our children.”
“The overwhelming bipartisan support demonstrated in this poll reflects the reality that people across North Carolina understand that no one can change something as fundamental as their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Allison Scott, Director of Policy and Programs for the Campaign for Southern Equality. “We know that support for the Mental Health Protection Act will keep growing because it protects our kids and just makes sense.”
The bill faces a tough road to passage with the GOP majority controlling the General Assembly.
Sen. Terry van Duyn, D-Buncombe, acknowledged that in a press conference last week. Democrats hope starting the conversation about conversion therapy – which has been condemned as harmful by the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics – will change minds, she said.
“Attitudes change,” van Duyn said. “I think one good example last year was Raise the Age. It took us years to get Raise the Age. Hopefully it won’t take us years to do this. But it just takes time.”
“We’re seeing attitudes change across the state,” she said “Sometimes it takes legislators a little while to catch up with the people they represent.”