Bill Description: House Bill 483 would define and ban "conversion therapy" for minors.
Does it give government any new, additional, or expanded power to prohibit, restrict, or regulate activities in the free market? Conversely, does it eliminate or reduce government intervention in the market?
House Bill 483 creates Section 16-2435, Idaho Code, to define and ban a practice known as "conversion therapy" for minors. It would also add definitions of "gender identity" and "sexual orientation" into Idaho code, two terms not currently defined in statute.
As written, the bill violates the transactional freedoms of three distinct classes of people: parents, minors, and mental health professionals. The bill forbids mental health professionals from engaging in "any practice or treatment that seeks to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a patient or client, including mental health therapy that seeks to change, eliminate, or reduce behaviors, expressions, attractions, or feelings related to a patient's or client's sexual orientation or gender identity."
The bill does contain some exceptions for clergy members, religious counselors, parents, and grandparents, but its prohibitions ignore the very fundamental matter of consent. The prohibition is all-encompassing, which means even if the parent, minor, and mental health professional all agree that there is merit in attempting to "change, eliminate, or reduce behaviors, expressions, attractions, or feelings related to a patient's or client's sexual orientation or gender identity," the state will insert itself into this consensual relationship and forbid this voluntary interaction.
Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?
In addition to House Bill 483's prohibition on providing a particular focus in therapy, it is a de facto ban on parents seeking mental health therapy that is consistent with their beliefs regarding how to raise their children.
Section 32-1010, Idaho Code, acknowledges the rights of parents, stating in part, "The interests and role of parents in the care, custody and control of their children are both implicit in the concept of ordered liberty and deeply rooted in our nation’s history and tradition. They are also among the unalienable rights retained by the people under the ninth amendment to the constitution of the United States. The interests of the parents include the high duty and right to nurture and direct their children’s destiny, including their upbringing and education."
Therapy designed to "change, eliminate, or reduce behaviors, expressions, attractions, or feelings related to a patient's or client's sexual orientation or gender identity" can certainly have a significant impact on an individual's life. Such therapy, however, is not beyond the scope of a parent’s right to "direct their children’s destiny," which is recognized and enshrined in Idaho Code as retained by the people under the Constitution of the United States.
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