Racine became the fifth city in Wisconsin this week to ban conversion therapy — attempts by professional counselors to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people — from being used on children under the age of 18.
The city council voted 11-3 Tuesday night to ban the practice following hours of public testimony for and against the measure. Violators could incur fines of up to $1,000 a day under the law.
“I’m pleased that Racine is taking this step to protect our community’s kids from adults who would have them believe they are less than whole because of who they love,” Racine Mayor Cory Mason wrote on his public Facebook page in advance of the vote.
A 2012 paper published by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry concluded that “there is no evidence that sexual orientation can be altered through therapy, and that attempts to do so may be harmful.”
Madison, Milwaukee, Cudahy and Eau Claire have previously passed conversion therapy bans. A Wisconsin Assembly bill (AB-111) would extend the ban statewide. Like the local ordinances, it limits the ban to minors. Practitioners would still be permitted to conduct conversion therapy with adults who seek it voluntarily. Under the state bill, now in the Assembly Mental Health Committee, mental health providers could be disciplined by their credentialing body for violations.