Cleveland City Council moves to ban “conversion therapy”

Once the ordinance is signed, Cleveland will be the tenth city in Ohio to prohibit the practice

By: - October 13, 2022 4:50 am

LGBTQ+ Pride flags | Photo by Susan J. Demas/Michigan Advance/States Newsroom.

This week the Cleveland City Council voted to ban conversion therapy within its jurisdiction. Advocates backing the initiative expect Mayor Justin Bibb to sign the legislation.

What is it?

The practice known as “conversion” or “reparative” therapy attempts to coerce LGBTQ people, many of them youths, into altering their sexual orientation or gender identity. The American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and a host of other medical organizations all oppose the practice.

In its policy statement, the AAP notes that these approaches “have been proven to be not only unsuccessful but also deleterious and are considered outside the mainstream of traditional medical practice.” They go on to describe them as “unfair and deceptive.”

Cleveland’s move comes as state education officials consider a resolution in support of a Title IX lawsuit filed by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and 21 other state attorneys general. The lawsuit attempts to block a Biden administration anti-discrimination initiative. That effort would require schools accepting funding for school meals to protect students from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The response

Groups like the Trevor Project and Equality Ohio lobbied Cleveland councilmembers to pass the prohibition. In a press release shortly after the vote, Trevor Project campaign manager Gwen Stembridge sounded an optimistic note.

“It is heartening to see Cleveland join the growing number of cities across Ohio taking a stand to support LGBTQ youth by passing protections from the harms of so-called conversion ‘therapy’ — which has been consistently associated with increased suicide risk,” she said. “We hope that Cleveland’s bold action sparks statewide leaders across The Buckeye State to follow suit with increased protections for LGBTQ youth throughout Ohio.”

The Trevor Project’s 2022 survey on LGBTQ youth mental health found 17% of respondents reported being threatened with, or subjected to, conversion therapy. Attempted suicide was twice as prevalent among that population as compared with those who didn’t face threats or participation in conversion therapy.

Equality Ohio executive director Alana Jochum applauded councilmembers for banning what she termed an “immoral and ineffective” practice.

“There is mounting evidence against the long-term physical and psychological impacts of conversion therapy,” she said. “The only solution is to prohibit the practice and give parents the most accurate information on how to best support their LGBTQ children.”

“Until Ohio protects our youth against this harm statewide, we will continue to support these ordinances one locality at a time,” Jochum added.

When Bibb signs the ordinance into law Cleveland will become the tenth city in the state to prohibit conversion therapy. It will join with Cincinnati, Toledo, Columbus, Dayton, Athens, Lakewood, Kent, Cleveland Heights, and Reynoldsburg.

Follow OCJ Reporter Nick Evans on Twitter.



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Nick Evans
Nick Evans

Nick Evans has spent the past seven years reporting for NPR member stations in Florida and Ohio. He got his start in Tallahassee, covering issues like redistricting, same sex marriage and medical marijuana. Since arriving in Columbus in 2018, he has covered everything from city council to football. His work on Ohio politics and local policing have been featured numerous times on NPR.