Lakewood City Council Votes to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Dangerous Practice of “Conversion Therapy"

by Ianthe Metzger

COLUMBUS -- The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, HRC praised the Lakewood City Council for passing a measure protecting LGBTQ youth in the city from the dangerous, abusive and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” Lakewood is the sixth city in Ohio to pass such a measure following Cincinnati, Columbus, Toledo, Dayton and Athens.

“No child should be subjected to unconscionable abuse that is so-called “conversion therapy,” said HRC Ohio State Director Shawn Copeland. “That’s why this debunked and discredited practice has been condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, and why 15 states and Washington, D.C. have taken action to protect minors from conversion therapy. We thank Councilman Dan O'Malley and the entire the Lakewood City Council for their leadership on this issue, and hope it can help fuel the momentum we are seeing nationwide as lawmakers work to pass legislation protecting LGBTQ youth.”

There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior. The harmful practice is condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Medical Association.

In addition to cities in Ohio, a growing number of municipalities across the country, including cities and counties in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Washington, Florida, New York and Arizona, have enacted similar crucial protections. Connecticut, California, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii and  New Hampshire all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice.

According to a recent report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, an estimated 20,000 LGBTQ minors in states without protections will be subjected to conversion therapy by a licensed healthcare professional if state and local officials fail to act.

HRC has partnered with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation ending conversion therapy. More information on the lies and dangers of efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity can be found here.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work, and in every community.

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