Rosky drafts bill to protect youth from conversion therapy in Utah

Clifford Rosky, a University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law professor, has played a leading role in researching and drafting proposed legislation to protect minors from conversion therapy in Utah.

The bill, titled “Prohibition of the Practice of Conversion Therapy Upon Minors,” was unveiled at a press conference at the Utah State Capitol on Feb. 21.  Rosky drafted the legislation on behalf of Equality Utah, a nonprofit organization working to secure equal protections for LGBTQ Utahns and their families.  The bill, H.B. 399, is sponsored Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City and Sen. Dan MacCay, R-Riverton.

Professor Clifford Rosky

Conversion therapy is the practice of attempting to change or “fix” a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

“This is a dangerous and discredited practice,” Rosky explained, “which is linked to high rates of depression and suicidality in minors.  It has been rejected as ineffective, harmful, and unethical by all of the nation’s leading medical and mental health organizations.  It has been banned in 15 other states and more than 50 municipalities, but it remains legal in Utah, where suicide is already the leading cause of death among youth.”

“This bill is a huge step forward for LGBTQ children and families,” said Rosky, who is also a member of Equality Utah’s Advisory Council.  “Conversion therapy harms children and tears families apart. It’s time for Utah to join other states by protecting children from this harmful practice.”

According to the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the UCLA School of Law, where Rosky formerly served as a research fellow, approximately 680,000 Americans have been subjected to conversion therapy, including 350,000 as adolescents.  A 2018 study by Dr. Caitlin Ryan found that minors subjected to conversion therapy were two times more likely to experience depression (52 percent) and nearly three times likely to attempt suicide (63 percent).

Rosky’s research into conversion therapy adds to many projects that he has assisted on related to civil rights. At the College of Law, Rosky teaches courses on constitutional law, criminal law, and sexuality and law.

His recent scholarship includes “Anti-Gay Curriculum Laws,” 117 Columbia Law Review 1461 (2017); “Scrutinizing Immutability,” 53 Journal of Sex Research 363 (2016) (with Lisa Diamond); “Same-Sex Marriage and Children’s Right to Be Queer,” 22 GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies 531 (2016); “Still Not Equal: A Report from the Red States,” in After Marriage Equality: The Future of LGBT Rights (NYU 2016). He is a two-time recipient of the Dukeminier Award, which recognizes the best legal scholarship on sexual orientation and gender identity published each year.