Metro Weekly

Nevada Senate passes two pro-LGBTQ bills by wide margins

Foster parent training bill and a ban on conversion therapy now head over to Assembly for consideration

Nevada State Capitol – Photo: OK-59, via Flickr

On Tuesday, the Nevada State Senate passed a pair of bills intended to benefit LGBTQ-identifying children, sending them both on to the State Assembly for further consideration.

The first bill was a ban on the practice of conversion therapy on LBGTQ youth under the age of 18. Under that bill, any mental health practitioner, therapist, or counselor who attempts to engage in the practice could face disciplinary action and potentially risk losing their license. 

That bill passed with bipartisan support on a 15-5 vote, with one senator absent. It now heads to the Assembly for a hearing. Last year, the Assembly rejected a similar bill, but Republicans held the chamber by a 24-17 margin, with one Libertarian, at that time. Since the 2016 election, the Democrats have regained control of the chamber, and control it by a 27-15 margin, increasing the chances that the conversion therapy ban can pass.

But even senators who didn’t vote for the measure made it clear they didn’t support the practice.

“I think it’s a despicable practice and I certainly don’t support it,” Sen. Becky Harris (R-Las Vegas), told KTVN. “I wasn’t convinced that there are adequate protections for a youth who may have an adult mentor to be able to ask questions in a safe place where they can feel safe.”

Other states that have passed conversion therapy bans include California, New Jersey, Oregon and Illinois. The District of Columbia has also banned the practice on minors. New Hampshire recently considered a bill to ban the practice, but it failed in the Republican-dominated legislature.

The second bill would require specialized training for foster parents of an LGBTQ child, and provide protections for gender-nonconforming foster children. It also passed with bipartisan support, on an 18-2 vote, with one senator absent. If passed, the training for foster parents would likely be placed in the 2018 state budget as a line item.

The foster care bill was previously approved by the Assembly on a 26-15 vote, with one member absent. It now heads back to the Assembly for enrollment, after which it will be handed over to Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), who will either veto it or sign it into law.

A veto of either bill would likely be easily overrode in the Senate, but could fall short in the Assembly if the lower chamber’s 15 Republicans stand firm in opposing either measure.

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