Dayton looks to ban gay-conversion therapy for youth

The city of Dayton is on track to outlaw conversion therapy services that seek to turn gay, lesbian and transgender youth straight, following in the footsteps of about 18 U.S. cities that have banned the practice.

Officials acknowledged they know of no one currently performing the practice.

Under a proposed ordinance that had its first reading this week, mental health professionals in Dayton would be prohibited from engaging in sexual orientation conversion therapy with people under the age of 18.

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Violating the law could lead to $200 fines for every day that the conversion activities continue.

“We don’t want it, and we want to educate around it, so that’s one of the reasons why we’ve pushed this forward,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

Dayton commissioners on Wednesday had the first reading of legislation that would forbid any mental health professional’s practices or treatments that seek to alter a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

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Banned practices include those try to change “gender expressions” or reduce or eliminate sexual romantic attractions or thoughts about members of the same sex.

Mental health professionals are licensed, certified or registered in the state, including physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors and therapists.

Whaley said she is unaware of any professionals who perform conversion therapy in the city. But, she said, the city wants to demonstrate it is not welcome in Dayton.

The American Psychiatric Association has long condemned conversion therapy, which it says is based on the faulty belief that homosexuality is a mental disorder.

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Conversion therapy attempts to “cure” people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), which is harmful and all the evidence shows that sexual orientation and gender identification cannot be changed through therapy, said Kim Welter, director of finance and policy at Equality Ohio, a statewide LGBT advocacy group.

Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo have also banned conversion therapy, and Athens is working to pass a ban.

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