KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Jackson County Legislature has voted to ban conversion therapy for minors Monday after the measure failed just weeks ago.
County legislators unanimously passed an ordinance that will prohibit any attempts to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity through conversion therapy.
Jackson County is now the first Missouri county to ban the practice. Several other cities in the Kansas City area have also done so in recent years.
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.
Jackson County’s ordinance would fine anyone who practices conversion therapy on minors.
“I am encouraged by today’s events and the legislature’s actions to pass this important legislation,” Legislator Manny Abarca said in a statement.
“I must emphasize that the work does not end, and we must as the county do everything we can to continue to stand up and protect our most vulnerable and marginalized communities.”
The Kansas City LGBTQ Commission, which asked the county to take up the issue, released a statement after Monday’s vote:
“For the first time in our community’s history, we can finally say that conversion therapy is banned from Kansas City to Independence to way out in Eastern Jackson County. From east to west and north to south, conversion therapy is banned in Jackson County, Missouri,” Kansas City LGBTQ Commission Chair Justice Horn said.
Just two weeks ago, a vote on the ban failed by a singular vote. Three lawmakers abstained from voting, resulting in a 5-1 vote. The measure needed six votes to pass.
Abarca reintroduced the measure last week, and county legislators voted again this week.
Now the ordinance will head to County Executive Frank White Jr., who is expected to sign it. After the last failed vote, White lit up the courthouse in a rainbow to pressure lawmakers into passing the ban.
White urged lawmakers to “send a loud and clear message that Jackson County is a safe space for all by passing this common-sense legislation.”