Conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ minors was banned in the city of Ann Arbor after Ann Arbor City Council passed an ordinance Monday evening.
Under the ordinance, providers will be barred from providing treatment that aims to “change, reduce, or eliminate an individual’s Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, or Gender Expression” for individuals under the age of 18 in Ann Arbor.
Any violation of this ordinance is considered a civil infraction and can be reported to the Ann Arbor Police Department. Violators can face a fine of up to $500 each day a violation occurs.
The ordinance was unanimously passed, with Councilmember Erica Briggs, D-Ward 5, absent. It will be effective within 10 days.
The ordinance adds a chapter to Title IX of the Code of the City banning the practice, which is illegal in 20 states and numerous other territories.
This ordinance comes after a resolution to ban conversion therapy for minors was passed during the May 19 council meeting. The resolution stated that because “conversion therapy pressures gender non-conforming children to view themselves and their sexual orientation or gender identity as pathological and inferior, the practice of conversion therapy represents a form of emotional violence.”
Mayor Christopher Taylor, one of the co-sponsors to the resolution, said the ordinance is a positive step toward making Ann Arbor a more inclusive and safe place for the LGBTQ+ community.
“The so-called conversion therapy is, of course, an abomination,” Taylor said. “It seeks to teach people they aren’t who they are and it does great and grievous harm. I’m glad that we, here at the city at least, have the opportunity and will to do something about it to the extent that we can.”
Councilmember Travis Radina, D-Ward 3, and Elizabeth Nelson, D-Ward 4, also co-sponsored the resolution.
In June 2021, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared an end to using state and federal funds for conversion therapy for minors. Funding through Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, juvenile justice programs and child welfare services for the purpose of conversion therapy were all banned under to Whitmer’s directive.
No commenters called in during the scheduled public hearing for the ordinance.
Radina urged community members to call on Michigan State Senate Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake; Michigan House Speaker Jason Wentworth, R-Farwell; and state Sen. Curtis VanderWall, R-Ludington, the chairman of Senate Health Policy and Human Services, to ban conversion therapy statewide.
He also called on Republican leaders in Lansing to “stop standing in the way” of outlawing the practice of conversion therapy statewide.
“I spoke last week about the importance of passing this ordinance to ban this discredited and harmful practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy,’” Radina said. “It’s time for Michigan to join the 20 other states that have already banned this practice.”
Councilmember Linh Song, D-Ward 2, said she wholeheartedly supported the ordinance to help members of the LGBTQ+ community feel safe in Ann Arbor.
“This is a good opportunity to remember how Ann Arbor really functions as a safe haven for a lot of folks in the community,” Song said. “When we make a statement of values and try to confer some sense of safety and loving care knowing that we are a community that supports our LGBTQ community members, I think it’s great.”
Daily Staff Reporter Navya Gupta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.