Louisville, Kentucky, has finally banned conversion therapy, but the practice is still legal in over half the US

  • Louisville, Kentucky's largest city, banned LGBTQ conversion therapy on September 17. 
  • Conversation therapy is the practice of using shame, physical pain, and emotionally traumatic tactics to change someone's gender identity or sexuality. 
  • Because of its traumatic impacts on LGBTQ youth, 20 states have outlawed conversion therapy entirely. 
  • But in the remaining 30, particularly the US South and Midwest, conversion therapy is still used and negatively affects the mental and physical well-being of queer young people. 
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Louisville, Kentucky, has become the latest US city to ban conversion therapy.

The Louisville Metro Council voted 24 to 1 in favor of outlawing LGBTQ conversion therapy on minors in Kentucky's largest city on September 17, reported the Louisville Courier Journal. 

Conversion therapy, commonly referred to as reparative therapy, is the practice of trying to change someone's gender identity or sexuality by using shame, physical pain, and emotionally traumatic methods that have been compared to torture by mental health professionals. 

Louisville is the second city in Kentucky to ban the practice after Covington and among a growing number of cities moving to abolish conversion therapy for those under the age of 18.

The Trevor Project has reported LGBTQ youth who go through conversion therapy are more likely to need mental health treatment, have higher rates of depression and anxiety, and are more likely to attempt suicide. 

"It is impossible to imagine any other practice associated with such high rates of suicide and other dangers that would still be allowed," Kentucky State Representative Lisa Willner said during the council meeting.

Despite this, only 20 out of 50 US states — including Kentucky — currently outlaw conversion therapy.

Within the states with no mandated ban against the practice, about 66 cities including Miami, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Philadelphia have taken matters in their own hands and banned conversion therapy. 

Conversion therapy is linked to worse mental health outcomes and higher rates of suicide 

A 2018 study published by UCLA's School of Law Williams Institute found an estimated 698,000 adults in the US have gone through conversion therapy. 

Those who go through conversion therapy are subjected to traumatic practices, like verbal abuse, induced vomiting, and electroshock treatment, to associate their queerness with pain. 

A Trevor Project study released in June 2020 is the first study to look at the impacts of conversion therapy on queer youth. It only affirmed previous guidance from mental health officials that conversion therapy is a clear risk factor for suicide. 

It found low-income LGBTQ youth, Latinx youth, youth in the South, and transgender and nonbinary youth were particularly at risk for undergoing conversion therapy. 

"It is in the best interest of public health for lawmakers to enact protections for LGBTQ young people against this dangerous practice and to increase access to LGBTQ-affirming mental health care," Amy E. Green, director of research at The Trevor Project, said in a statement to Insider. 

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