Yesterday I stood alongside members of the LGBTQ community both on the steps of City Hall and in the historic chambers where local history has been made since 1930's. Many of my friends and colleagues there are also survivors of conversion therapy. We each had 2 minutes to speak to the City Council in favor of the proposed ban on the practice of conversion therapy by state licensed providers. The ban will protect minors from this harmful practice. Surprisingly there were a large number of people there to oppose the ban. Despite hearing many of us tell our personal, harrowing stories, they still argued that that children and teens should be allowed to participate in this unscientific and harmful practice of attempting to change their sexual orientation from gay to straight. It was no surprise that the opposition to the bill came entirely from faith-based organizations and churches.
I addressed the City Council as follows:
Good afternoon. I’m Joel Barrett. My husband and I live In downtown KCMO.
I’m an LGBT writer, speaker, and gatherer. I’m a former, ordained, Baptist minister.
I’m in favor of this ban because I am an adult survivor of 3 years of ex-gay therapy also known as conversion therapy, reparative therapy, reorientative therapy, reintegrative therapy, same sex attraction counseling, and a host of other names none of which are based in any science or considered credible by any mental health organization.
I know the impact of conversion therapy as an adult who spent his entire life being told he could not be both Godly AND gay.I know the emotional, spiritual, and psychological damage done to me as an adult in his 30’s.No minor should be subjected to this harmful practice. The only time in my life I seriously considered dying as a better option to living was when I was in Conversion Therapy.
I implore you to join the growing number of states and municipalities who have chosen to protect our youth and ban conversion therapy.Let’s see Kansas City be on the right side of history.
We have much work to do. While I'm in complete support of these state and local bans, I am concerned that none of these bans addresses the practice outside of state licensed providers. The Trevor Project has a list of 500+ organizations who still practice conversion therapy in some form but because of their religious affiliation, they are not state licensed and can operate freely.
The primary source of attempts to change one's sexual orientation is from faith-based organizations. Until we are willing to address the source, this legislation will have little to no impact on the practice.
Next week Kansas City will pass a local conversion therapy ban. This is a reason to celebrate. It's a step in the right direction, but only the beginning of eliminating this abusive practice for all people.
Click on the photo courtesy of the Kansas City Star at the top of this post to learn more about the ban.