March 2017: Advocacy

We had a busy month! This quarter Dr. Alexander taught Psychology, Public Policy, and Advocacy, which consisted of six students in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP) at DU. Guest speakers for the course included individuals from local advocacy organizations (i.e., Mental Health Colorado, ACLU Colorado, Advocacy Denver, Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center). The capstone project for the course involved students providing mock testimony on a current legislative bill—which demonstrated students’ preparedness for legislative testimony. Shortly after the course ended, Dr. Alexander and her students attended Mental Health Colorado’s Legislative Education and Advocacy Day (LEAD Day) where they learned more about current issues involved mental health reform in Colorado and how to be a better advocate at the state level.

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This month Dr. Alexander testified before the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee at the Colorado state Capitol regarding House Bill 1156. This bill would ban licensed mental health professionals from conducting “conversion therapy” with minors—an ineffective, unethical, harmful, and abusive practice which attempts to alter a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. The practice is not supported by many professional mental organizations (including the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and American Medical Association).

Dr. Alexander was there with the support of ONE Colorado and Moses Gur (Policy Associate and University of Denver alum) of the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council. Unfortunately, after 3+ hours of passionate, brave testimony by individuals in the LGBTQ+ community, their allies, and mental health professionals discussing negative outcomes of this practice, the Committee voted against the bill (for the 3rd year in a row). Although hurt, no one appeared broken. Hopefully, next year this bill will pass!  

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