CONCORD, N.H. — The New Hampshire House narrowly passed a bill Thursday that would ban therapy that attempts to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of minors.

The House approved the bill 179-171 a month after voting it down by a single vote. The bill now heads to the Senate.

“Conversion therapy is a harmful and damaging practice which attempts to shame young people into changing their sexual orientation or identity,” Rep. Ed Butler, D-Hart’s Location, said in a statement afterward.

Supporters of the measure say the therapy is inappropriate, ineffective and harmful. But opponents say there’s no evidence it happens in the state, and that state licensing boards already have the authority to regulate and discipline any practitioner who uses coercive tactics.

Opponents also raised concerns that well-meaning counselors and teachers could face criminal charges for helping heterosexual teens who have temporary same-sex crushes.

“Quietly lurking in the bill is prohibition against gentle client-affirming talk therapy,” said Rep. Mark Pearson, R-Hampstead. Butler said the bill does not restrict such counseling.

Cornerstone Action, a conservative advocacy group in New Hampshire, agreed, saying the bill is about banning talk therapy between a therapist and a minor who wants to address unwanted same-sex attraction.

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