"I want to protect them from the harm that could come from a trusted professional telling them one way or another, that they are broken. That the core truths of who they are are wrong or even disgusting, I know you do too," said Rep. Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford.
Maine legislators are evaluating a proposed bill, which seeks to protect LGBT youth from conversion therapy.
"It's a practice that's known to be harmful to LGBTQ youths," said Fecteau. "Medical associations and societies across the country have deemed this practice, which seeks to change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity, is harmful."
According to lawmakers, this type of therapy could put youths at risk of drug abuse, suicide and detachment from family.
"Whether it'd be physical or psychological, the emotional impact on a child, we are talking about youth, those under the age of 18, that impact lasts a long time," he said.
Lawmakers say, every leading professional medical and mental health association in the U.S., has rejected this kind of therapy, stating it's both ineffective and harmful. But that didn't stop proponents of conversion therapy from stating why they feel certain aspects of it are essential, such as talk therapy.
"Everyone should be free to find therapy and support to help them achieve their desired goals and outcomes," said Dr. Joseph Nicolosi Jr., a psychologist from the Breakthrough Clinic. "Unethical methods are already in violation of standard of care guidelines. This bill is so wide ranging in scope, it could be damaging to minors. Many of minors who need help the most."
Currently only nine states have banned the use of this therapy. This ban would exempt clergy. But state licensed professionals must remain neutral.
"There's a difference between consulting someone on their journey to why they are experiencing same sex attraction to trying to change someone, who they are innately," said Fecteau.