Charleston becomes first West Virginia city to ban conversion therapy

West Virginia News

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The City of Charleston has become the first West Virginia city to ban so-called conversion therapy for minors.

The city council passed the ban by a 14-to-9 vote. It puts Charleston in line with neighboring states, Virginia and Maryland, which have statewide bans on conversion therapy.

“This ordinance is about protecting and valuing our LGBTQ youth, making the city a more inclusive city for those who live here, those who might visit Charleston, and those who may one day call Charleston home,” said Caitlin Cook, Charleston City Council.

“This is a huge victory for Charleston’s LGBTQ children who deserve love and respect for who they are, and no one should be in the business of trying to shame or humiliate these kids simply for being gay,” Andrew Schneider, Executive Director of Fairness West Virginia.

Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky each have one municipality with this ban. Altogether, more than 20 other states and 70 municipalities already have laws on the books banning conversion therapy.

“A practice that has been condemned by all major medical associations, not only in West Virginia, but around the country. As not only ineffective, but also dangerous. It leads to negative health outcomes such as depression and in many cases even suicide,” said Schneider.

Conversion therapy is the practice of trying to change an individual’s sexual orientation to heterosexual. This ban will not affect adults, but some psychologists say these bans prevent their patients who are participating in this therapy by choice, from doing so.

“The constitution protects everyone’s rights for freedom of speech. However, last night they picked a winner and a loser. One viewpoint is now allowed, and no one viewpoint is banned,” said Allen Whitt, President of Family Policy Council West Virginia.

Whitt said with this ban, licensed psychologists who practice this form of conversion therapy will be fined $1,000 a day and be revoked of their license if caught.

“They’ve now chosen a viewpoint. They’ve left healthcare providers and in some cases patients here with no alternative, but to sue the city in order to get their livelihoods back. In order to do that, we’re going to file a Freedom of Information Request Act that is going to file today with the city,” said Whitt.

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