Athens on Monday became the fifth city in Ohio to ban the practice of “conversion therapy” within its city limits, after a unanimous vote by Athens City Council.
Conversion therapy is the practice of psychological and/or spiritual treatment that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, targeting members of the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a practice that many national professional organizations for counselors, therapists and doctors have derided as dangerous, ineffective and unscientific.
Other cities in Ohio, including Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo, have approved ordinances banning the practice of conversion therapy in their city limits.
City Council member Chris Fahl introduced the ordinance after community members came forward with the idea.
“This represents all that is good in Athens,” Fahl said Monday at the council meeting. “We’re a city of love and tolerance and inclusiveness and community, and this is one more example of how we as a community in Athens get together and try to change things for the better of all of our citizens.”
The audience in the City Council chambers broke out in applause after the vote on Council’s part.
delfin bautista, director of OU’s LGBT Center, was present for the occasion. bautista and others have applauded City Council’s efforts, largely because, they argue, the practice is dangerous. Transgender Ohio teen Leelah Alcorn committed suicide in 2014 after allegedly being subjected to conversion therapy by her parents.
In an interview earlier this summer, bautista told The NEWS that at one time, bautista had gone through one form of conversion therapy. The LGBT Center director identifies as a “genderqueer” person, identifying outside the male/female gender binary; bautista, as such, uses the lowercase spelling for their name, and…