Mayor, council members move to ban quack practice of conversion therapy on Denver kids

Denver City Councilwoman Robin Kniech speaks at a public meeting. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Denver City Councilwoman Robin Kniech speaks at a public meeting. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Denver’s Office of Human Rights and Community Partnerships wants decision-makers to ban the unscientific practice of attempting to train kids out of being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer, and elected officials are listening.

The discredited practice, known as conversion therapy, is based on the false idea that sexual preference is linked to mental illness and requires a “cure.” Conversion therapy is linked to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse and even suicide, according to Mayor Michael Hancock’s office.

“When a young person begins to realize they might be gay or lesbian, or that their gender doesn’t match expectations, they need love and support, particularly from trained professionals like therapists,” said Councilwoman Robin Kniech, who will co-sponsor the bill with Council President Jolon Clark, in a statement. “The discredited practice of trying to ‘convert’ someone’s gender or sexual orientation place youth at serious risk of suicide. I’m proud Denver is joining dozens of other cities and states to prohibit this dangerous practice in our community.”

The American Psychiatric Association, along with every major medical and mental health group in the world, long ago discredited the idea as quackery, the mayor’s office points out.

“These terrible practices that target our youth, simply for being who they are, are dangerous and immoral,” Hancock said in a statement. “We’re going to make sure that they never happen within our city.”

Kniech and Clark will propose the bill Wednesday at the City Council’s Safety, Housing, Education and Homelessness Committee.

Governor-elect Jared Polis said in April that he wants to ban conversion therapy statewide.

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