The health committee in the New Jersey Senate has advanced legislation that would ban licensed therapists from counseling gay children to change their sexual orientation.

During a hearing on the bill, "conversion therapy" came under criticism.

Toms River resident Brielle Goldani said when she was 14, she was sent to a camp in Ohio. There, she was given electric shocks as part of the treatment to convince her to become straight.

"To this day, I live with the psychological damage that was done to me. Because of this program, I attempted suicide three times," she said Monday. "This was nothing more than legalized child abuse."

Some speakers said they are no longer gay because the programs helped them stop their homosexual feelings.

One parent objected to the measure as interfering with parents' rights to choose counseling for their children.

"I see you people bullying the parents with our children. That's not right," said Carol Gallentine.

Ryan Kendall, a student at Columbia University, said "conversion therapy" destroyed his life when he was 16.

"My faith and my family had rejected me, and the damaging messages of conversion therapy, coupled with this rejection, drove me to the brink of suicide," Kendall said. "For the next decade I struggled with depression, periods of homelessness, and drug abuse."

The measure has not yet been considered by the Assembly and there's no indication whether Gov. Chris Christie would sign it if it reaches his desk.