Pittsburgh lawmakers ban conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors

The city of Pittsburgh took an important step toward protecting LGBTQ youth this week, voting to ban conversion therapy for minors. When Mayor Bill Peduto signs off on the decision (as he said he will), it will make Pittsburgh the first city in Pennsylvania to take a stand against a disgusting effort to “cure” homosexuality. When this ban becomes law, Pittsburgh will join other cities like Cincinnati, Miami Beach, and Seattle to take a stand against conversion therapy.

Conversion therapy has been used for decades in an attempt to force gay people to become straight and employs horrific methods like shock therapy to punish a patient for their natural sexual response to images. Patients have also been given drugs and harmful talk therapy to “convince” them that being gay is a mental condition that can be overcome. Currently, there are no professional guidelines to govern this practice, so physical and mental abuse of LGBTQ youth can fall from the “talking” range on toward physical methods.

This is a major move as the country inches closer and closer toward a Trump administration with a Vice President Mike Pence and Education Secretary Besty DeVos, who both support organizations which use or promote conversion therapy. Obviously, there is zero evidence that conversion therapy works, and organizations like the American Psychiatric Association say it leads to depression and self-hatred.

Conversion therapy is banned in only four states: New Jersey, California, Illinois, and Vermont, and the District of Columbia. Legislation is currently in the works in upstate New York, and Erie County has started the process of bringing the law to fruition and even gave it a name taking a shot at the future VP: PENCE, which stands for Prevent of Emotional Neglect and Childhood Endangerment.

This so-called therapy is nothing more than a practice born out of fear and ignorance. Sexual orientation is not a mental disease that can be managed or cured by berating kids in a therapy session or using barbaric methods to torture them into being straight. If anything, it’s a road to anger, confusion, and possibly suicide to escape the pain. And, for this practice to only be banned in FOUR states and D.C. is shameful and a reminder of how much more needs to be done to protect LGBTQ youth.

Congratulations to Pittsburgh for taking a stand on the right side of history. Hopefully more cities and states will follow suit.