MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Morgantown City Council held a second and final reading of an ordinance to ban the practice of conversion therapy on Tuesday.
The ban conversion therapy recommendation was presented by the Morgantown Human Rights Commission earlier in October. The council unanimously passed the ordinance stating that the city-wide ban would prohibit the practice of conversion therapy with a minor under the age of 18 by any medical or mental health professional in city limits.
“It really is a serious issue that required immediate attention. Kids are vulnerable, and those who are struggling with their sexual orientation, gender identity, are even more vulnerable to therapist who put them through horrible abuse that conversion therapy entails,” said Andrew Schneider, Executive Director of Fairness West Virginia.
Morgantown is the second city in the state to approve a ban on conversion therapy with Charleston being the first within the Mountain State.
“Studies, after studies show that those who have been subjected to conversion therapy are more likely to commit suicide than those who have not,” Schneider said. “So, this is about saving lives, this is about making our young kids more comfortable with themselves. And make, creating a better more inclusive community.
Representatives of Fairness West Virginia said this is a start in what will be a number of cities and towns implementing a ban on conversion therapy practices. 15 communities in the state have fairness laws in their municipalities banning discrimination against LGBTQ people.
“We hope that eventually all these efforts will come knocking on the door the state legislature to finally adopt the Youth Mental Health Protection Act which would ban conversion therapy on the state level,” Schneider said. “Contact your legislatures, contact your delegates, and your senators and make sure that you urge them to vote for and push for the Youth Mental Health Protection Act.”
Currently, the Youth Mental Health Protection Act is a bipartisan bill that has been introduced into both the house and senate chambers. 20 states across the country adopted state-wide bans on conversion therapy, including Maryland and Virginia. Washington, D.C. also has a district-wide prohibition.