City Council looks at possible conversion therapy ban for minors

The Human Rights Commission is pushing for City Council to ban conversion therapy for minors.

Posted: Sep 23, 2020 9:07 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The conversation continues to protect minors in St. Joseph who are undergoing conversion therapy.

"No one admits to practicing it because it's controversial," Michael Jasper Vice-Chair of the Human Rights Commission said.

The Human Rights Commission drafted a proposal that would ban the controversial therapy in St. Joseph.

The discussion started months ago, but the coronavirus put the conversation on hold.

"The Human Rights Commission was created to advise the city council and to educate them where we can. The conversion ban therapy is kind of a pet project for us for some time, because it's so damaging,” Jasper said.

According to the 'Human Rights Campaign' website, conversion therapy is a dangerous practice that targets LGTBQ youth and seeks to change their sexual or gender identities.

The commission in St. Joseph says this is nothing new in the professional world.

"The American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, and countless other organizations, which, I'm sure we'll get into in work sessions and all, all of those organizations say that it doesn't work and that it's damaging,” Jasper said.

If it were to pass, the ban would not include religious institutions, but would affect licensed counselors and therapists.

"You know it has no impact whatsoever on a pastor or church representative doing counseling, which of course is common practice, it does not affect that,” Jasper said. “The only time it would affect them would be if say, you have a pastor who is also a licensed counselor or psychologist, they would have to abide by the ordinance."

St. Joseph could become the fourth city in Missouri if the city passes the ban.

Kansas City, Columbia and St. Louis has already taken the steps to ban the practice on young children in Missouri.

"You know, at the end of the day, it's child abuse,” Jasper said. “If a person who is an adult decides to have that kind of therapy and feels like, you know, it would benefit them, you know, that's their choice; adults can do whatever they want. But, minors are at the mercy of their parents or guardians. We believe that the city has a responsibilty to protect them from child abuse."

The ban was originally presented to the city council back in March.

The conversation will continue at the next Human Rights Commission meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 20 at City Hall.

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