On Monday, the Denver City Council unanimously voted to ban conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth. Denver is now the first jurisdiction in the entire state to ban this cruel, archaic “therapy.” Notably, this isn’t the first time lawmakers in the state have tried to ban conversion therapy; it’s actually the fifth.
Sadly, Colorado isn’t wildly outdated compared to the rest of the country. How many states have bans on the practice? Only nine.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, who submitted the proposal, released a statement on the victory, saying:
"Tonight’s vote to ban conversion therapy is our city coming together and saying with one voice that we will never allow our LGBTQ+ youth to be the targets of these dubious practices, and that we are here to support them.”
"Who they are is something to be celebrated, not maligned, and Denver will always be there to lift up our youth and ensure that they have the opportunity to grow up safe, happy and healthy," Hancock continued.
Conversion therapy is deeply harmful to LGBTQ and questioning youth. More than 10 major medical associations, including the American Psychological Association (APA) and the American Medical Association, renounce conversion therapy on grounds that one’s sexual orientation and gender identity cannot be (and are not meant to be) “cured” or “fixed.”
Youth who survive conversion therapy are nearly 10 times more likely to be suicidal, nearly six times as likely to be depressive, and three times as likely to use illegal drugs when released from the horrendous practice. Without a doubt, conversion therapy is despicable, harmful, and frankly, inhumane. Bans are the minimum cities and states should be doing to protect vulnerable LGBTQ youth.
This important step comes just as America’s first openly gay governor, Jared Polis, is sworn into office in Colorado. In his speech outside of Denver’s state capitol, Polis said:
“Right now, our nation is experiencing a period of growing divisiveness and rising tribalism. But here in Colorado, we choose a different path. Here, we have come so far, we have climbed so high, we have done so much, not just to say but to show that we reject the negative and divisive brand of politics.”
Polis is also Colorado’s first Jewish governor.