LGBTQ rights group leader quits youth suicide task force, blasts Utah governor over conversion therapy bill

Posted at 11:54 AM, Mar 06, 2019

SALT LAKE CITY — The leader of the LGBTQ rights group Equality Utah has resigned from the governor’s youth suicide task force over changes to a bill banning conversion therapy.

“Unfortunately, Governor Herbert has turned his back on LGBTQ youth and he’s turned his back on the best medical and mental health professionals in the country and he’s sided with quack therapists,” Williams told reporters on Wednesday.

The resignation came after a bill banning conversion therapy got dramatically changed. House Bill 399 would have banned conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth. But the bill was substituted by House Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Karianne Lisonbee, who removed gender identity and only prohibited therapies that subjected children to actual abuses.

Governor Herbert supported the change, said Rep. Lisonbee, R-Clearfield.

The bill was changed so much that HB399’s own sponsor, Rep. Craig Hall, told FOX 13 he could no longer support it.

Williams was a member of the governor’s youth suicide task force, formed to come up with ideas to tackle the state’s growing suicide epidemic.  He said Wednesday he was told to bring ideas and proposals — but every time he has, they have been shut down.

“It’s clear to me that Governor Herbert is not interested in seriously engaging, reducing suicide for LGBTQ youth,” Williams said.

Taryn Hiatt of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has also quit the task force in solidarity.

“I do not want my name anywhere affiliated with individuals who would support a practice that is harmful and contributing to rates of suicide and depression,” she said.

But Hiatt said she will continue to lobby for a bill banning conversion therapy, instead of what passed out of the House committee on Tuesday.

On Wednesday afternoon, Governor Herbert’s office released letters he wrote to Williams and Hiatt, requesting a meeting.