Board Resolution Condemns Conversion Therapy
Board expected to pass resolution, echoing stand of national medical groups.
Milwaukee County Supervisor Peter Burgelis has authored a resolution condemning conversion therapy, the pseudoscientific practice that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Conversion ‘therapy’ is based on a false assumption that being a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individual is a defect or disorder that needs curing,” Burgelis told Urban Milwaukee. “It is rooted in anti-gay and anti-transgender bigotry and harms LGBTQ kids.”
His resolution would make it the board’s position to condemn the practice and also ask that the Milwaukee County Mental Health Board, which oversees the county’s behavioral health system, adopt a similar policy. The legislation already has five cosponsors and is likely to pass the board.
“Although Milwaukee County, including the Behavioral Health Services (BHS) Division as overseen by the Milwaukee County Mental Health Board, are not providing or funding conversion therapy services, it is important to formally condemn the practice and end its use anywhere in our community,” the resolution states.
As Michael Horne reported for Urban Milwaukee, the first act of the state Legislature’s Republican-controlled Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules in 2023 was to repeal the statewide ban on conversion therapy with a vote that split along party lines.
Burgelis’ resolution notes that medical associations such as the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry have all rejected the practice due to the harm it causes people subjected to it.
“Conversion therapy is defined as any practices or treatments offered or rendered to consumers for a fee, including psychological counseling, that seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender” the resolution states.
The City of Milwaukee adopted a conversion therapy ban in 2018. The legislation was authored by then-alderman Cavalier Johnson, who said at the time, “Young people experience conversion therapy as a form of family rejection.” When the Common Council voted on the ban there were protestors telling alder-persons they would be going to hell and shouting “Sin, sin.”
“Milwaukee County has a responsibility to promote the mental health and well-being of all its residents,” Burgelis said, “regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
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