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Protect Columbia's Youth from Conversion Therapy

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I support the B295-19 to amend Chapter 16 of the Columbia, MO City Code to prohibit the practice of conversion therapy on juveniles as provided by licensed mental health professionals.

Conversion therapy — or attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity —is based on the discredited notion that being LGBTQ+ is a mental disorder that can be cured or corrected.

Research shows that attempts to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity pose a significant risk of serious emotional and physical harm— including anxiety, depression, social withdrawal, illegal drug use, and suicide.

The nation’s leading mental health associations, including the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy warned about the dangers of conversion therapy, denouncing the practice as ineffective, lacking any scientific basis, and incredibly unsafe.

Eighteen states and D.C. have already recognized the dangers of conversion therapy, along with dozens of municipalities across the country — Columbia should do the same to protect youth from known dangers. For instance, laws protect young people from child abuse and neglect at the hands of their parents and other adults. Current law also protects young people from being able to buy alcohol and tobacco, as well as from physical or verbal harassment, and bullying and discrimination at school.

The City of Columbia has a responsibility to protect children from these dangerous practices. I therefore request that the City Council of Columbia, Missouri protect our LGBTQ+ children by declaring the practice of conversion therapy on minors in Columbia unlawful, and write such prohibitions into the City Code of Ordinances.



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