Prizm News / July 22, 2019 / By Ken Schneck
Kent becomes the latest Ohio city to ban conversion therapy
On Wednesday, July 17, the city of Kent became the latest municipality in Ohio to ban the medically and psychologically discredited practice of conversion therapy.
The ban passed out of the Kent Health and Safety Committee on July 3 by a vote of 9-0. This then moved the ordinance on to a full City Council vote, where it also passed unanimously. According to the new language:
No mental health professional shall engage, within the geographic boundaries of the City of Kent, in sexual orientation or gender identity change efforts with a minor, without regard to whether the mental health professional is compensated or receives any form of remuneration for his or her services. If the city manager or his designee receives a report of a violation of this provision, the city manager or his designee shall mail to the mental health professional written notice to immediately cease and desist offering to provide or engaging in sexual orientation or gender identity change efforts. The failure of the mental health professional to immediately cease and desist shall subject the mental health professional to the civil fine provided in Section 723.99 of this chapter.
The vote also “declared an emergency,” meaning that the ordinance was deemed “an emergency measure necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety and welfare of the residents” of Kent. The approval of this distinction results in the language taking effect and being in force immediately.
The efforts were spearheaded by Kent residents MJ Eckhouse and Lis Regula, in conjunction with Equality Ohio and Kent 4 Equality. The Kent couple were also deeply involved in passing Kent’s comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinance in 2017.
“After the nondiscrimination ordinance passed, we started talking about what other goals we had to improve our community,” says Eckhouse. “So we decided a few months ago we wanted to move forward with a conversion therapy ban and presented language to the Council.”
Kent now joins other Ohio municipalities like Athens, Columbus, Dayton, Lakewood, and Toledo in banning the practice that has been declared ineffective and harmful by a host of associations, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association. In 2014, Cincinnati made headlines when the fraudulent practice was banned after 17-year-old Kings Mills resident Leelah Alcorn completed suicide, leaving behind a note urging the discontinuation of conversion therapy on trans youth.
A bill banning the practice across the state of Ohio currently sits in committee.