Covington commissioners voted unanimously to ban conversion therapy for LGBT+ minors this week.
Religious and spiritual advisors use conversion therapy to "change" the sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression of LGBTQ people. In Covington's new ordinance, violators will receive a civil penalty.
"This is a tremendous step (and) goes a long way toward ensuring the emotional and social safety of LGBTQ families," Manager of Day Treatment at Children's Home of Northern Kentucky Adam Roland said at Tuesday's meeting.
The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law estimated that 20,000 LGBT youth between 13 and 17 years old will undergo conversion therapy before they turn 18. Many health associations have condemned the practice, saying it increases health risks.
During a February meeting, Commissioner Shannon Smith said an opinion piece in The River City News prompted her to reach out to the legal staff to draft the ordinance.
"I want all LGBTQ persons to know you have an advocate in me and this commission," she says.
Commissioner Denny Bowman thanked his colleague for bringing this ban to the forefront. He says over the last month when he was reviewing information about the practice, he saw disturbing things. "Looking at some of the things that happened in their seminars with these counselors it looks to me like mental torture," Bowman said. "I think also there is some form of child abuse in these sessions just reading a lot of the documents that are being presented."
Bowman said that the ordinance language should be passed onto Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron who campaigned on fighting child abuse. Bowman said he hopes Cameron will endorse a statewide ban to legislators.