Two local advocacy groups are sponsoring Hawaii legislation next session that would ban a type of mental-health counseling that aims to change the sexuality of children who identify as gay, bisexual or transgender. 

“Conversion therapy,” as it’s known, is typically nonconsensual counseling imposed on children by parents or other adult figures and is widely seen as ineffective and intolerant. It’s already banned in California and New Jersey. 

The Hawaii bill is being sponsored by GiRL FeST Hawaii, which combats violence against women and girls, and the political advocacy organization IMUAlliance. Bill sponsors say Rep. John Mizuno has agreed to help introduce the measure, with other lawmakers expected to hop on board as well.

A press release cites statistics about the impact of family rejection on LGBT youth:

Studies have shown that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth who report higher levels of family rejection during adolescence are 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and 3.4 times more likely to report engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse, compared with peers from families who report no or low levels of family rejection. 

Photo: Gay-Straight Alliance students paint signs for National Coming Out Day. (Alia Wong/Civil Beat)

— Alia Wong