Prairie Village votes to ban conversion therapy on minors

Kansas News

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. — The Prairie Village City Council voted 11-1 Monday night to ban the practice of conversion therapy for children under 18 years old. 

The ordinance defines conversion therapy, in part, as: 

“Any practice or treatment that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender.”

The ordinance defines gender identity as an individual’s actual or perceived gender-related identity, expression or appearance.

Prairie Village now joins other cities in the metro like Lawrence and Roeland Park in Kansas, as well as Kansas City and North Kansas City in Missouri, in banning conversion therapy for minors. 

The ban will go into effect Oct. 26.

Prairie Village’s ordinance would result in a fine of up to $1,000 for any licensed practitioner who performs conversion therapy within city limits. 

Council member Sheila Myers was the only one to vote against the ordinance. She previously told FOX4 she does not support conversion therapy, but questioned how the city could enforce a ban.

“We don’t have anyone in Prairie Village who performs this, according to the Equality KC rep who was here last time. The only place it’s supposedly practiced is in churches, and we can’t ban it there because of the First Amendment. I have tremendous compassion for the victims of this terrible therapy,” Myers previously said.

City attorney David Waters previously told FOX4 there is some debate about whether these bans are enforceable. Federal courts of appeals so far have been split, he said, and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Kansas, has not considered the question yet.

“It may be the case that ultimately this has to be decided by the United States Supreme Court in order to resolve what we call the circuit split differences among courts of appeals,” Waters said.  

Still, majority of council members voted in favor of the ban Monday night. Advocates from Equality Kansas were in favor of the move and spoke before the council about the issue last month.

“We are of the opinion that this [conversion therapy] is not therapy. Being lesbian, gay, transgender, queer or other sexual or gender minority is not an illness and is not in need of treatment,” Shapley said. 

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