NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Banned by legislators in many states, mental health providers who use  ‘conversion therapy’ will be protected if Texas state Rep. Scott Sanford (R-McKinney) has his way.

Sanford filed a bill this month to protect mental health providers who engage in practices motivated by their “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Considered controversial by many in the medical field, conversion therapy is the pseudoscientific practice of trying to change an individual’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual using psychological or spiritual interventions.

A psychologist comforts his depressed patient. (photo credit: Getty Images)

HB 4357 defines “mental health provider” to include the following:

  • a behavior analyst
  • a chemical dependency counselor
  • a licensed professional counselor
  • a marriage and family therapist
  • a nurse
  • a physician
  • a psychologist
  • a sex offender treatment provider
  • a social worker
  • a special officer for offenders with mental impairments; or
  • another person licensed by the state to provide professional therapy or counseling services

The bill would effectively allow mental health providers to perform conversion therapy and potentially refuse to provide services or treatment to the LGBTQ community.

In addition to serving as a member of the Texas House of Representatives, Sanford is an accountant and pastor.