NewsLocal News


Jackson County Legislature passes conversion-therapy ban on 2nd try

Jackson County Courthouse conversion therapy.png
Posted at 4:31 PM, Apr 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-03 23:35:25-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If at first you don’t succeed, try — try again.

Two weeks after an ordinance that would ban conversion therapy in Jackson County failed, the Jackson County Legislature passed an amended version of the ban championed by Manny Abarca IV and Jalen Anderson.

“I am encouraged by today’s events and the Legislature’s actions to pass this important legislation,” Abarca said in a release after the ordinance he sponsored with Anderson passed. “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. I will forever stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.”

The ordinance makes it illegal to perform conversion therapy — a controversial practice also known as ex-gay or reparative therapy, aimed at changing someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity — on minors in the county.

Abarca called the conversion-therapy ban “a significant step forward in the protection of the LGBTQ+ community in Jackson County.”

Entities that employ someone convicted of performing conversion therapy on a minor will be prohibited from receiving county contracts.

The statute also calls for fines of up to $500.

Supporters of a conversion-therapy ban in Jackson County celebrated passage of an ordinance to prohibit the practice — which already is outlawed in Kansas City, Missouri, and Independence among other jurisdictions in the KC area — Monday afternoon.

“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,” Justice Horn said in a statement from the Kansas City LQBTQ Commission. “From east to west and north to south, conversion therapy is banned in Jackson County, Missouri. This has been a relentless battle our community has fought for over the years, but we’ve finally gotten to this historic day together. It’s been an honor of a lifetime helping get conversion therapy banned in Kansas City, Independence, and now Jackson County, Missouri.”

Not only have many medical groups discredited conversion therapy as a legitimate treatment, many medical professionals and people who’ve undergone conversion therapy say it damages the mental health of people who endure it.

Two weeks ago when the previous version failed, Anderson gave searing testimony about his own experience with conversion therapy as a teenager.

County Executive Frank White Jr. is expected to sign the ban. He had ordered the County Courthouse lit up in rainbow colors in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community until the conversion-therapy ban passed.