KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jackson County is the first county in the state of Missouri to ban conversion therapy for minors. It took several attempts, but legislators passed the ordinance in April.
Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. is one of those county leaders who helped pass the ban. On Wednesday, he held a ceremony while signing the ordinance.
“I think it really sends a clear message that Jackson County stands for people, and I think it’s really important that our LGBTQ+ children are valued and that they feel loved, and they know that they’re not alone,” White said.
The ordinance will prohibit any attempts to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity through conversion therapy.
Supporters of conversion therapy use methods ranging from counseling, hypnosis and medicine to the more extreme, such as shock therapy, withholding food and exorcisms.
But researchers say the practice is damaging, inhumane and dangerous and causes mental health problems later in life.
“I want you to know, if you’ve struggled with this, if you’ve been through any type of attack from an individual or group for who you are, I want you to stay strong. I want you to hold on because we have stopped something that has hurt you or is hurting you,” Jackson County Legislator Jalen Anderson said.
Several other cities in the Kansas City area have also banned conversion therapy in recent years.
“This is one step forward for us, and in Jackson County, there’s a legislature that cares about this community and will take on these challenging issues no matter what the state will say and do,” Jackson County Legislator Manny Abarca said.
Jackson County’s ordinance would fine anyone who practices conversion therapy on minors.