KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mayor Quinton Lucas is working on an ordinance to ban conversion therapy in Kansas City, Missouri.
The practice, also known as reparative therapy or "ex-gay" therapy, is a scientifically discredited practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It often includes psychotherapy, but also has been known to include more barbaric treatments such as electroshock and chemical castration.
"It's important for us to join communities around the country," Lucas said. "We are standing up as a place that's welcoming to anybody. And that means you're not just welcomed here, but that we are not allowing abusive practices."
Often, survivors report being traumatized and the "therapy" is often very secretive and can be abusive.
Conversion therapy, which is often associated with religious institutions, has been condemned by reputable medical organizations, including the American Medical Association.
"It's a problem that it can exist in Kansas City," Lucas said.
Zachary Mallory said he understands.
He put himself through conversion therapy at a small, now-closed church in Independence when he was 17 years old.
Mallory, now 24, continued his conversion therapy for two years.
"I felt guilty," he said. "I felt ashamed of being who I was."
The pastor "would have me re-read Bible verses and the most intense part was he would use electroshock therapy. He would show an image and then if I were to get aroused, or something, then it would send a shock throughout my entire body."
A handful of states, including California and New York, already ban conversion therapy for minors. The practice is legal in both Kansas and Missouri, except for Columbia, Missouri.
Earlier this month, the Columbia City Council voted to ban conversion therapy for minors, becoming the first city in the state to do so.
Lucas said he followed the council's actions, spoke to the mayor then decided to enact something similar in Kansas City.
"We're trying to address something that says if you're a recipient of a business license in Kansas City, Missouri, we are making sure you're not engaged in these types of harmful activities," he said.
The ordinance Lucas is drafting will be similar to one passed in Columbia.