On Monday, Akron, Ohio, became the 11th city in the state to pass an emergency ordinance prohibiting conversion therapy for minors.
“I’m incredibly proud to add Akron to the growing list of communities recognizing the harmful effects of conversion therapy and speaking out against it,” Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan, a Democrat, said in a news release on Monday. “Akron has repeatedly proven to be a welcoming, diverse community, and taking this step ensures that our community is inclusive of all.”
Horrigan and four of the city’s council members introduced legislation to prohibit conversion therapy, a discredited practice that aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The measure was approved unanimously by the entire 13-member city council during a Monday evening meeting.
The new ordinance, which goes into effect immediately, makes it illegal for any healthcare professional to knowingly subject a minor to conversion therapy, which is defined as a procedure that seeks to change a person’s gender identity or expression or to eliminate sexual or romantic feelings toward someone of the same gender.
The law does not prohibit healthcare providers from assisting transgender youth or adults with their social or medical transitions, nor does it prohibit mental health professionals from providing LGBTQ young people with social support that affirms their identities.
The new law also empowers the Akron Civil Rights Commission, which was appointed by Horrigan and approved by the city council, to investigate potential violations and impose penalties.
The move comes just over a week after the Cleveland City Council voted to outlaw LGBTQ youth conversion therapy, which is now punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.
Other Ohio cities that have banned conversion therapy for minors include Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo, Dayton, Lakewood, Cleveland Heights, Kent, Athens, and Reynoldsburg.
Conversion therapy practices have been condemned as harmful and based on an “unfounded misconception of sexual orientation and gender identity” by major medical associations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, and the American Medical Association.
According to a 2020 Williams Institute report, lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in the United States who had undergone conversion therapy were nearly twice as likely to report suicidal thoughts. According to the same study, 7% of LGB 18- to 59-year-olds had undergone conversion therapy at some point in their lives, with the majority of them coming from religious leaders.
According to the Williams Institute report, roughly one-third of adults had conversion therapy from a healthcare provider.
According to a report released last year by The Trevor Project, a national LGBTQ youth suicide prevention organization, 13% of LGBTQ young people have been subjected to conversion therapy, with 83 percent having been exposed to the practice as minors.
According to the Movement Advancement Project, 20 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws or policies prohibiting conversion therapy for people under the age of 18.
Three states – Alabama, Georgia and Florida – are located in a federal judicial circuit with an injunction that prevents the enforcement of conversion therapy bans.
Ohio is one of 21 states that have no statewide policies in place that ban or limit conversion therapy practices.