New Jersey Assembly OK's Reparative Therapy Ban

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The movement to ban the practice of reparative therapy is gaining momentum. The New Jersey Assembly passed a bill Tuesday that forbids therapists from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with youth under age 18.

The measure applies to anyone licensed to provide professional counseling. It defines "sexual orientation change efforts" as the practice of seeking to change a person's sexual orientation, including efforts to change behaviors. It does not apply to counseling for a young person wanting to change their gender.

Gay rights groups say the practice hurts young people, but critics say the bill infringes on parents' rights.

Last year, California became the first state to ban the therapy, but a judge halted implementation because of concerns about the law's constitutionality.

The American Psychological Association has raised concerns about sexual orientation change efforts but has not banned it.

A 2007 study by psychologists Stan Jones and Mark Yarhouse indicated that change is possible. When researchers followed 63 people trying to change with the help of Christian ministries, they found that 30 percent were able to reduce their homosexual attraction and 23 percent were able to convert to opposite-sex attraction.

The Senate will likely take up the bill on Thursday.

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