Two LGBTQ-related bills are making their way through the state government, but they're polar opposites of each other and attracting a lot of attention.
No. 1: Pro-Equality
State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) introduced Senate Bill 367 that would make it illegal for mental health professionals to attempt to practice conversion therapy on minors.
"Plain and simple this is child abuse," McMorrow told Lansing's WLNS. "It's called conversion therapy, but it's wildly discredited by every mental health organization as damaging, particularly to kids."
Penalties for those who continue such therapy would include losing their license.
"Queer and trans young people's identities and self-expressions have always come under threat, and 'conversion therapy' is a long-standing method of child abuse used against this vulnerable community," said trans activist and licensed social worker Lance Hicks. "The ability to be not only accepted but affirmed and celebrated for who they are is critical to the mental and emotional well-being of these youth. Amongst the clients I serve, those queer and trans individuals who have supportive families of origin that celebrate their identities are much less likely to experience self-harm, disordered eating, chronic shame, depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress and suicidality than those others [who] have attempted to 'fix.' This approach is state-sanctioned violence, point-blank, and must be stopped."
Equality Michigan has come out in favor of the ban as well. Executive Director Erin Knott called it a "dangerous and discredited pseudoscience."
"[It] frequently leads to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse and even suicide," Knott said. "It is alarming that this abusive practice is happening so brazenly in our own backyard and it must be stopped. Equality Michigan supports legislation to ban medical professionals from harming children in a useless attempt to change a minor's sexual orientation or gender identity."
No. 2: Anti-Trans
The second proposed piece of legislation, Senate Bill 218 proposed by Lana Theis (R-Brighton), seeks to prohibit young trans athletes from competing on teams that match their gender identity.
The bill would make a rule "that only biological males may compete for a position on and compete on a boys' high school team in an interscholastic activity and only biological females may compete for a position on and compete on a girls' high school team in an interscholastic activity."
LGBTQ+ leaders are calling the bill a solution in search of a problem.
"Senate Bill 218 is unconstitutional and harmful," Knott said. "It will directly impair the ability of trans youth to participate in sports, and only adds to the stigma that they face. Senate Republicans are unnecessarily targeting trans youth with legislation that is an overt, coordinated, multistate attack on the most vulnerable young people."
Brayden Misiolek, executive director and co-founder of Transcend the Binary, agreed.
"Targeting a vulnerable community – especially youth – is malicious," he said. "It preys upon the lack of understanding and misinformation at the expense of young people. It prevents participation in opportunities for enrichment, fitness, wellness, team-building and competition."
Both bills are currently awaiting a hearing date.