Prairie Village reviews potential ban on conversion therapy

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PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. — Prairie Village is one step closer to banning the practice of conversion therapy for minors. 

Monday during a Committee of the Whole meeting, councilmembers voted 11-1 to progress a draft ordinance banning the practice of conversion therapy for children under 18 years old. 

According to city documents, the ordinance would be modeled after a similar ban in Roeland Park. The draft 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.

Council member Sheila Myers voted against moving the ordinance forward to a full vote of the city council. 

“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 said.

“I would encourage Equality KC to continue to educate the public on the dangers of this therapy, but I am not going to support this ordinance. I would support a resolution expressing our opposition to this therapy and its use, but I will not support the ordinance.” 

City attorney David Waters mentioned there is a circuit split among federal courts of appeals when it comes to the constitutionality of conversion therapy bans. Currently the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Kansas, has not considered the question. 

“There is at least nationally some question as to the enforceability of these ordinances. 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. 

The proposed ordinance could fine any licensed practitioner up to $1,000 for practicing conversion therapy within city limits. 

“I think this is something that happens behind closed doors where it’s not totally public. The fact of the matter is one out of every ten members of the LGBTQ community, throughout their lifetime, were subjected to conversion therapy,” council member Inga Selders said.

“There are individuals in Prairie Village who have suffered the repercussions of this. We cannot ignore that fact.” 

The city council will vote on the potential ban of conversion therapy at the next regular council meeting on Monday, Oct. 18. 

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