The city of Appleton is considering a ban on conversion therapy for minors.
Conversion therapy is the practice of trying to convert someone who is gay or lesbian to becoming straight through the use of psychological intervention.
Last Friday, Local 5 talked to Appleton city officials and gender studies experts about why they support the ban, but now those who oppose the ban are speaking out.
“There’s over 61 studies in the last 50 years that have been published in textbooks or professional articles that show that indeed sexual orientation can change,” says Mike Levenhagen, a gender identity consultant with the Wisconsin Family Council.
Levenhagen says putting the ban into effect would stifle parental rights and would limit the help available to youth struglging with their sexual identity.
There are studies including those from the National Institutes of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics that say conversion therapy has lasting negative effects.
But Levenhagen says those studies tend to be biased.
“The only alternative for therapy then would be affirmative or what’s called multicultural therapy. So you have a high school student who is finding themselves struggling with same-sex attraction and it conflicts with their moral values, they have no choice but to get some professional counseling,” he says. “Conversion therapy would sit the person down and say, so what are your values, how does this lineup, what are your choices? Affirm the person and what they’re dealing with and help them actually change their sexual orientation to line up with their values.”
The proposal to ban conversion therapy in Appleton will be put to vote in January.