On Thursday, June 9, the La Crosse Common Council passed a conversion therapy ban ordinance in a vote of 6–4, making La Crosse the 14th city in Wisconsin to ban the outdated practice. This new ordinance bans any type of conversion therapy to be practiced on anyone under the age of 18 within the city limits. The ban was initially introduced by students at UW-La Crosse, who worked with a Common Council member Mac Kiel to draft it and introduce it to the council.
Conversion therapy is defined by the city of La Crosse as “any practices or treatments that seek to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including psychological counseling. It also includes efforts to change a person’s behavior or gender expression, or reduce attraction or feelings towards someone of the same sex” according to the La Crosse Tribune, who further clarified that it does not “include counseling that provides support, acceptance and understanding of a member of the LGBTQ+ community…That means an individual is still allowed to seek guidance or counseling from a religious leader, for instance, about their sexuality or gender identity, so long as there isn’t an attempt to change how that person is identifying.”
A number of local organizations and community members sent in letters in support of the ban, many citing how discredited among the medical community it is and how harmful it can be to those who go through it.
Unsurprisingly, the ban has been opposed by senior members of some of the local religious organizations, who say that the ban infringes on their religious freedoms and parental rights, and that those who seek this sort of treatment do so willingly and have the ability to “change.”