On Sept. 25, the Westminster City Council passed a proclamation banning conversion therapy. The controversial practice is often targeted at LGBTQ youth. Although the document is not legally binding, the city chose to take a stance on the issue.
Conversion therapy, also referred to as reparative therapy, are treatments that claim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The practice often results in lasting psychological and medical issues, and has been decried by groups like the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Ericka Salerno, an attendee at the meeting, said that the issue for her is a very personal one.
“This has been 40 years in the making for me, because I was a victim of conversion therapy,” Salerno said. “I was taught by my church about how wrong it was to be who I was.”
Salerno received conversion therapy at the ages of 5, 7, 17 and 27 years old. Salerno said that it took her 10 years to accept who she is and have normal contact with her friends and family.
Bee Holmgren, the vice chair for the JeffCo Dems LGBTQ+ Caucus, said the proclamation is an important gesture to the community in a politically charged climate.
“Yes, the proclamation’s not legally binding, but it makes the statement that our elected officials are invested in our well being and it’s a statement of welcoming,” Holmgren said.
Since 2015, three bills have been sent to the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee of the Colorado Senate for debate. Each contained language that would have prevented a licensed mental health provider from practicing conversion therapy on minors. However, all three bills were shot down over concerns of religious freedom, equal protection rights and a minor’s right to choose reparative…