Sound Stories. Sound Voices.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
You are on the KUOW archive site. Click here to go to our current site.

Seattle bans conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth

Pride flag Seattle LGBTQ
Flickr Photo/Cloganese (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/

Therapists in Seattle will no longer be able to offer “conversion therapy” to LGBTQ youth. Monday, the City Council unanimously voted to ban the practice and fine violators up to $1,000.

Many LGBTQ youth in the U.S. experience some form of conversion/aversion therapy when they come out. Counselors who offer it aim to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

But City Councilmember Lorena González said the practice has been discredited, and young LGBT people need support instead. She sponsored the ordinance and wrote a report on the topic.

González: "Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer or transgender is not all illness, nor is it something that needs a cure. Conversion therapy is a harmful practice that needs to end."

The city will spend about $50,000 on ads and outreach so people, particularly LGBT youth, are aware that the practice is banned.

Susan Bonner thanked the council. She said she voluntarily went through conversion therapy in her 20s.

Bonner: "But all it really did was create shame within me. And can you imagine an adult? It's worse with kids."

Seattle joins Miami Beach, Cincinnati, Washington, D.C., and five states in banning the practice.

The Family Policy Institute of Washington, which stresses parental rights and religious freedom, said therapists should be allowed to practice conversion therapy. The institute said it's an assault on free speech to set restrictions on what a counselor can do or say during their work.