Prairie Village to consider ban on conversion therapy

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PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. — The City of Prairie Village could soon ban the practice of conversion therapy for minors. 

The city council voted 10-2 Monday in favor of having city staff draft an ordinance for a ban on the practice of conversion therapy.

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

Councilmembers Sheila Myers and Daniel Runion voted against the proposal. Myers said she does not support the practice of conversion therapy, but questioned how the city could enforce a ban. Runion said he would not support the ban without a limit on legal costs to draft the ordinance. 

“We have a duty to our citizens in the community that’s been described by the proponents of this as well as the rest of our community in spending their taxpayer money,” Runion said. 

Brian Shapley with the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Kansas made a presentation Monday to the council. 

“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. 

Shapley said he does not know of any licensed practitioners in Prairie Village that are currently providing conversion therapy.  

If approved, Prairie Village would join other cities in the metro like Lawrence and Roeland Park in Kansas, as well as Kansas City, Missouri in banning conversion therapy for minors.  

The proposed ordinance would include an exemption for non-licensed, religious leaders offering counseling as a form of pastoral care. 

“The exemption would not be afforded to the licensed therapists, counselors, psychiatrists that are working through a church organization. They are still licensed and therefore would still be required to follow the guidelines of these policies and these bans,” Shapley said. 

The council will be presented with additional information on the language of the proposed ordinance in the next few weeks.

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