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Racine City Council Votes To Ban ‘Conversion Therapy’ For Those Under 18

City Joins Milwaukee, Madison, Cudahy, Eau Claire In Banning Practice

Racine City Hall
Racine City Hall Richie Diesterheft (CC BY 2.0)

The Racine Common Council approved on Tuesday a ban on “conversion therapy” for anyone under 18 years of age. Conversion therapy aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Backers of the proposal noted that the American Medical Association and other groups have spoken out against conversion therapy as harmful and ineffective.

The Racine Journal Times reported that more than a dozen people stood outside the council meeting Tuesday night, most of them opposed to the ordinance.

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The council took public comments from dozens of residents. Nikki Michele said she came out as gay two years ago and had seen firsthand the pain caused by conversion therapy. She said she was speaking out in support of the ban on behalf of her four children, one of whom identifies as transgender.

“For children like mine to be told, ‘You have to change intrinsically who you are to be acceptable’ is abuse,” Michele said.

Some opponents, including resident Alice Sand, said a ban would limit counseling by clergy and therefore, limited free speech and religious rights.

“Because of these constitutionally granted freedoms, and that they are limited by this ordinance, I maintain that the ordinance is unconstitutional,” Sand said.

City officials said the measure applies to therapists and not clergy or parents.

The council passed the ban by a 11-3 margin.

Members who voted against the measure said it was outside the scope of city government.

Conversion therapy is also banned in the cities of Milwaukee, Madison, Eau Claire and Cudahy.

Several Democratic state lawmakers have also introduced a statewide ban on conversion therapy.