MILWAUKEE — The city of La Crosse is considering a ban on conversion therapy.
If passed, it would join 13 other Wisconsin cities with bans in place. This includes Appleton, Cudahy, Eau Claire, Glendale, Madison, West Allis, Milwaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Shorewood, Superior, Kenosha and Sun Prairie.
Conversion therapy is an effort to change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity. The practice is widely rejected by the medical community and has harmful impacts on the LGBTQ community, especially the youth.
"When we are talking of some of the outcomes of conversion therapy, or reparative therapy, we're seeing a huge increase of suicidal ideation or completed suicides. We are seeing huge increases of major depressive order, anxiety, we're seeing things like substance abuse, homelessness, deep rooted shame and trauma," Ozaukee Community Therapies Licensed Practicing Counselor Sam Schommer.
Because of that harm and research that's been done, Schommer said, "Every major medical and mental health organization in the United States has issued statements around why we shouldn't do conversion therapy."
According to UCLA's Williams Institute, nearly 700,000 LGBT adults in the United States have received conversion therapy at some point.
Jessica Katzenmeyer is an LGBTQ activist in West Allis and worked with her city council to pass a ban last year.
"We want to make people in the LGBTQ community feel welcome in our city, and having a ban on the book, the books, shows others like 'hey, I feel welcome in the city, I wanna live here,'" Katzenmeyer said. "We are who we are. We're just people living what we know makes us happy. As long as we're not hurting anybody, why does that matter?"
Although she's happy to see another community like La Crosse consider a ban, she's hoping to eventually see a statewide and even federal ban on conversion therapy.
"The more communities that we have that have a ban passed, we feel like that sends a message to our state legislature," Katzenmeyer said.
Right now 20 states have bans against conversion therapy:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
The District of Columbia and Puerto Rico also have bans.