Jackson County proposal seeks to ban LGBTQ conversion therapy

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 5:24 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Soon, conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors could be a thing of the past.

A bi-partisan effort from Jackson County lawmakers will likely prohibit it and add a fine.

“This is really a faith-based organizational operation that is very harmful,” said Jackson County 1st District Legislator Manny Abarca. “The level of intensity that folks go to change someone are truly atrocious.”

If passed, the Conversion Ban Ordinance would make it illegal for religious organizations to attempt to change the beliefs of LGBTQ youth.

“What this does is protect our youth and give them the opportunity for the freedom to understand themselves and be themselves,” Abarca said. “This ban prevents organizations from changing that.”

With the ban comes a penalty clause: fining groups $500 if they practice conversion therapy.

It also strips organizational funding from the county to those associations.

“These organizations operate very loosely, and they use the term therapy, but it’s not governed by any type of counseling or licensing board,” Abarca said. “We’ve heard a lot of folks who said they’ve gone through this therapy, and that it was very damaging and traumatic to them as a child.”

Abarca said the reason for the ordinance is simple: it’s closely linked to abuse.

“We’ve heard from victims about being tied down, being doused with water, hands in hot water, scolding water being thrown on them, having to watch harmful videos,” Abarca recalled. “It’s truly traumatic and would be captured as abuse if anything else.”

A public hearing will take place Thursday before the DEI Committee meets to vote on its recommendation to the County Legislature.

Abarca said he’s pleased the County has bipartisan support for this legislation.

The public hearing for the Conversion Ban Ordinance will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Paseo Academy of Fine & Performing Arts.