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In a 7 – 4 vote, Huntington city council banned conversion therapy for minors within city limits.
The updated city ordinance says that attempting to change the gender identity or sexual orientation of a minor is discriminatory.
Huntington joins Wheeling, Morgantown, and Charleston in banning the practice.
“Everyone, from the American Medical Association to the American College of Physicians, all of these subject matter experts have said that this is nothing more than abuse,” said Vice Chairwoman Sarah Walling,
More than 30 residents came to speak. Resident of Huntington, and board member for the West Virginia Psychological Association, Sheila Robinette told the council that conversion therapy is ineffective and causes harm to minors.
“The youth of our city, this includes not just LGBTQ youth but all youth, deserve and have the right to be able to receive mental health treatment in a safe, ethical manner free from discrimination and in a manner that makes people better, not worse,” said Robinette.
Before hearing from the public, Councilmember Dale Anderson motioned to table the ordinance and wait for the state legislature to act.
“Mr. Anderson, we are not going to lay down and wait for the state, because they’re slow and sometimes ineffective,” said Huntington resident Joseph Crutcher. “The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims has labeled conversion therapy torture.”
Interactions between a child and their parent or someone in their religious group about sexual orientation or gender identity are not part of the ban.