OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — On Friday, state lawmakers will hear testimony about a proposed law banning conversion therapy.
Earlier this week, Lincoln became the first Nebraska city to approve the ban, which supporters say protects LGBTQ youth.
Twenty states have now banned conversion therapy, the practice of trying to change a person's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
Nebraska is not on that list, but that could change with a bill introduced to this year's legislature.
Conversion therapy has been frowned upon by nearly every major health association, including the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association, a huge reason why State Senator Adam Morfeld believes the practice needs to be banned.
Morfeld said it is also associated with an increase in suicidal thoughts, drug abuse and depression among teens.
Morfeld adds the statewide ban will be harder to pass than a ban at the city level.
"Instead of seven city councilors, we have 49 state senators, so there's a lot more people that we have to get buy-in from and there are multiple rounds of debate. Long story short is that we have to get broader buy-in and quite frankly it's important to expand these protections statewide because it's not just youth in Lincoln that are in danger, it's youth all across our state,” said Morfeld.
Morfeld said the practice, even in 2021, is still not uncommon. He added, it's been hard to gather data.
A 2018 report from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law found that nearly 700,000 LGBTQ adults in the U.S. received conversion therapy at some point in their lives.
Earlier this month, the issue sparked nearly five hours of split debate with therapy supporters claiming a ban limits free speech for patients and therapists.