WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) Members of the Wheeling City Council voted 4-3 Tuesday to become the third city in West Virginia that bans the practice of conversion therapy for minors.
Conversion therapy is a pseudoscientific practice where a medical provider attempts to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s an outdated practice that science has shown doesn’t work and can lead to long-term negative health outcomes.
“All of Wheeling’s children deserve love and respect for who they are, and no one should be in the business of trying to shame or humiliate teenagers out of being LGBTQ,” said Andrew Schneider, executive director of Fairness West Virginia. “No one should be profiting off of child abuse.”
Researchers from UCLA’s Williams Institute report that at least 68,000 LGBTQ people live in West Virginia, and that about 7 percent of LBGTQ people are victims of conversion therapy. That means nearly 4,800 West Virginians have been subjected to this abuse.
Studies have shown that victims of conversion therapy are 92 percent more likely to have thoughts of suicide.
“This is about protecting the wellbeing and mental health of vulnerable children,” Schneider said. “Survivors are typically left with years of trauma to overcome, stemming from an unscientific practice they never had a choice to receive. LGBTQ kids are worthy of love and support just the way they are, and this law affirms that.”
More than twenty other states and 70 municipalities already have laws on the books banning conversion therapy.
Charleston became the first West Virginia municipality to ban conversion therapy for minors last August and Morgantown did the same in October.