Prairie Village, KS plans to ban conversion therapy



Only a few cities in Missouri and Kansas have banned conversion therapy.

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Prairie Village city council will discuss on Monday whether to ban controversial conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth.

The council had voted 10-2 to ask city staff to draft an ordinance, similar to that passed in the neighboring city Roeland Park last year to ban mental health professionals from using conversion therapy, which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Other towns in Johnson County have yet to address the issue. In Kansas, Lawrence also banned the practice. In Missouri, Kansas City, North Kansas City, St. Louis, St. Joseph and Columbia have implemented bans. But last summer, the Independence City Council rejected such an ordinance.

The American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association found that conversion therapy lacks scientific evidence and may harm LGBTQ youth by contributing to depression and mental health issues.

This summer, LGBTQ rights group Equality Kansas spoke to the Prairie Village Diversity Committee about the harms of conversion therapy on minors. The committee decided to move the file forward. And on September 20, city council agreed to consider issuing an ordinance banning it.

The proposed ban would only apply to licensed health or mental health professionals, including counselors, psychologists and therapists working with minors. It does not prohibit churches or religious leaders from talking to young people about their sexuality or gender identity.

Municipal staff have wrote a prescription, which the board will discuss on Monday, but is unlikely to take a final vote at that time. Depending on the agenda, the board will consider options to penalize suppliers who violate the proposed order, such as the imposition of fines.

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Sarah Ritter covers K-12 education for The Kansas City Star. Formerly a reporter for the Quad-City Times, Sarah is a graduate of Augustana College.

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