Letter: Conversion Therapy Ban Is Discriminatory

The Wellington Village Council voted 3-2 to pass an ordinance that bans “conversion therapy” on minors, claiming that this type of therapy is harmful. However, in 2009, in the APA Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, the American Psychological Association concludes there is no proof of harm done to anyone undergoing sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE):

“There are no scientifically rigorous studies of recent SOCE that would enable us to make a definitive statement about whether recent SOCE is safe or harmful and for whom.”

Included in this ordinance would be a ban on therapy for minors who are seeking help to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction. Although there is evidence that change therapy has not worked for some individuals, there is also evidence that it has worked for others. This ban now discriminates against a type of therapy that could be beneficial. That’s taking away the rights of minors, parents and therapists.

Outrageously, three people who are not mental health experts have made a decision that affects the entire Village of Wellington. The passage of this ordinance was way beyond the scope of city government, especially since it has been rejected at both the county and state levels. When individual municipalities start passing ordinances proposed by outside organizations/lobbyists in the face of overwhelming support against the ordinance by its citizens, that is suspiciously wrong. Furthermore, as cities meddle in things that are out of their scope, it short-circuits the political process that’s in place to protect both businesses and its citizens’ rights.

This ban also discriminates against opposing views. One view is that people are born with a given sexual orientation that can never be changed. This may have evidence to support it, but it has no proof. Another view, which also has evidence to support it, is that some people acquire unwanted same-sex attraction and can work through these feelings to overcome them, much like someone works through any unwanted behavior. The American Psychological Association’s position statement in 2008 reads:

“There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles…”

Passing ordinances based on the first view is viewpoint discrimination. Additionally, many major religions subscribe to the second view, and if people want to live out their religious convictions, but are banned from doing so, that’s religious discrimination.

Kudos to Mayor [Anne] Gerwig and Councilman [Michael] Drahos for demonstrating courage and integrity as they grappled with this difficult issue that was brought before them. A lack of support for this ordinance is in no way an anti-homosexual sentiment by them or by the dozens of residents who commented against it; it’s just a common-sense view that sees this ordinance as discriminatory on several fronts and as being out of the purview of local government.

Jeannine Krieger, Wellington