The Prairie Village City Council on Monday agreed to ban controversial conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth.
The council voted 11-1 to prohibit licensed medical or mental health professionals from using the practice on minors. The practice tries to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity and is condemned by the medical community.
Councilwoman Inga Selders thanked the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Kansas, which has pushed for an end to the practice, emphasizing the harm conversion therapy does to minors.
“The impact of these efforts has certainly made Prairie Village a more open and welcoming place to live, work and grow up in,” Selders said. “I have faith that through the advocacy and education efforts, our neighboring communities will enact conversion therapy bans in the coming months, and eventually a path forward will be paved for a statewide conversion therapy ban.”
Prairie Village’s plan is similar to an ordinance adopted last year by another Johnson County community, Roeland Park.
Conversion therapy is widely denounced by the medical community. The American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, among others, say there’s no scientific evidence to support it, and it contributes to depression, suicide and other mental health issues among young LGBTQ people.
Councilwoman Sheila Myers cast the lone “no” vote. She previously suggested the ban wasn’t needed because it is unclear if any professionals in Prairie Village are practicing conversion therapy.
The ban applies only to licensed medical or mental health professionals, including counselors, psychologists and therapists working with minors. It does not prohibit churches or religious leaders from speaking with youth about their sexuality or gender identity.
The council decided to impose a $1,000 fine on violators.
In Kansas, Lawrence has also banned the practice. In Missouri, Kansas City, North Kansas City, St. Louis, St. Joseph and Columbia have implemented bans. But this past summer, the Independence City Council rejected such an ordinance.
Includes reporting by The Star’s Lisa Gutierrez.