Louisville Bans Conversion Therapy

Louisville, Kentucky, Leaders Vote to Ban Harmful Conversion Therapy

Louisville Bans Conversion Therapy

Conversion therapy survivors cheered Thursday night as Louisville Metro Council voted __ to approve an ordinance banning conversion therapy.

Kentucky’s largest city became the second city in Kentucky, after Covington, to ban the harmful practice. The ordinance prohibits licensed mental-health providers from using sexual orientation or gender identity change efforts with minors. It also prevents provision of public funds to any entity that provides “conversion therapy” to a minor.

Separate bipartisan legislation is pending to ban conversion therapy statewide.

During committee proceedings last week, Councilman Bill Hollander said the ban was necessary because conversion therapy causes increased rates of depression, substance abuse, and suicide. “In this National Suicide Prevention Month, surely we can agree to join states and cities across the country in banning a practice that doesn’t work and leads to higher suicide rates for children,” Hollander said.

The campaign to ban conversion therapy was led by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, the Fairness Campaign, and the survivor-led group Ban Conversion Therapy Kentucky (BCTK). BCTK in particular has achieved phenomenal success in uniting conservative Kentuckians in support of protecting LGBTQ youth.

Kentucky Survivors Show Leadership

Ban Conversion Therapy Kentucky staff and supporters
Ban Conversion Therapy Kentucky staff and supporters

“We are encouraged that Kentucky’s largest and most diverse city stepped up in a bipartisan way to protect Kentucky’s kids, said Tanner Mobley, executive director of BCTK. “It is our hope, a hope shared by thousands of Kentuckians from every corner and holler in our state, that our state legislature will do the same in passing the Youth Mental Health Protection Act during the 2021 Session and protect every Kentucky family by finally putting an end to these torturous and fraudulent practices for good.”

State Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, a Republican from Fayette, is the primary sponsor of the state senate bill. Kerr said, “In my Christian faith, I am taught that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made, wonderfully made, and I believe that very strongly. Pro-life means doing everything I can to protect our youth from suicide and from being rejected and being taught that they are not good enough. I’m inspired by this win in Louisville and feel hopeful that we can ban these torturous practices state-wide in 2021.”

“With so much strife in our community, so much pain in our city, tonight our Metro Council took a bold step toward love and compassion by banning the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion ‘therapy.’ This move by Kentucky’s largest and most diverse city is an important step toward a much-needed state-wide ban to protect young people across the Commonwealth,” stated Rep. Lisa Willner, D-Jefferson.

Youth Deserve Protection

Louisville councilman-elect Jecorey Arthur also spoke in support of the bill via Instagram.

“We need to ban conversion therapy,” Arthur said. “And today Louisville Metro Council is voting to do just that…Louisville needs to catch up. Because our youth not only deserve to live. But they deserve to be, and be with, who they love.”

Survivors Offer Support from Across the Nation

“We’re grateful to the Louisville Metro Council,” said Mathew Shurka, conversion therapy survivor and co-founder of Born Perfect, the national survivor-led campaign to ban conversion therapy. “Their vote sends a powerful message to every child that they are born perfect.” Shurka reflected on the experiences of survivors which have necessitated such bans.

“As a survivor of conversion therapy, I know first-hand that attempts by a therapist to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity result in serious, lasting harms. Like many other young people, I believed the professional therapists who told me I could change my sexual orientation and become straight. But after five years of doing everything I could to change, I was plunged into depression and despair upon realizing that these ‘therapies’ were bogus and that I could not change.”

Recovery from Conversion Therapy Can Take Years

“I will never be able to recover the time that I spent in this bogus therapy,” Shurka said. “It prevented me for years from living as my true self and robbed me of years that I will never regain. Conversion therapy also nearly destroyed my family. It drove a wedge between me and my parents and siblings, based on my therapists’ false assertion that being gay is caused by problems or deficiencies in parenting.”

There is absolutely no scientific basis for that assertion, which underlies almost all conversion therapy.

“The Louisville Metro Council is showing much-needed courage and leadership in standing up for LGBTQ youth. Hate-based groups in Northern Kentucky have waged vicious attacks and promoted dangerous lies and misinformation about LGBTQ people,” said Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which provides legal support to U.S. states and cities in implementing and defending conversion therapy bans. “Contrary to the false messages of these groups, being LGBTQ is a natural part of the spectrum of human identity. All children deserve love and support, not shame, and Louisville is doing the right thing in protecting people from so-called ‘conversion therapy.’”  


Born Perfect is the leading campaign to end conversion therapy. We are survivors, lawyers, and policy experts working together to protect LGBTQ+ people nationally and around the globe. Born Perfect is a program of National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

Rev. Bob Browning

Baptist Pastor Vows to Support LGBTQ Youth

Rev. Bob Browning
Rev. Bob Browning

During an informational hearing for the proposed conversion-therapy ban in Kentucky, Bob Browning, a Baptist pastor, appealed to conversion therapy’s supporters to listen to survivors and their families, recognize the terrible harms that are caused by this practice, and support LGBTQ youth:

“I truly wish we were further down the road than we are for the sake of those who feel misunderstood and are suffering in silence because they also feel unloved. Instead of talking today about changing someone’s sexual orientation, I wish we were discussing what people who are not heterosexual need from society.

But we are not this far down the road in our state. We must start where we are, which is what I believe supporting Senate Bill 85 does. It sends a message to our gay and lesbian family members and friends that their voices will no longer be ignored.”

Browning’s pastoral viewpoint is well worth sharing with Christian family and friends.


Born Perfect is the leading campaign to end conversion therapy. We are survivors, lawyers, and policy experts working together to protect LGBTQ+ people nationally and around the globe. Born Perfect is a program of National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

Socially distanced survivors and advocates listen to testimony during Kentucky informational hearing to ban conversion therapy (Credit: Mathew Shurka)

Kentucky Hearing on Conversion-Therapy Ban Reflects Strong Conservative Support

Socially distanced survivors and advocates listen to testimony during Kentucky informational hearing to ban conversion therapy (Credit: Mathew Shurka)
Socially distanced survivors and advocates listen to testimony during Kentucky informational hearing to ban conversion therapy (Credit: Mathew Shurka)

Legislation to ban conversion therapy for minors in Kentucky got its first hearing Aug. 25, as the Interim Joint Committee on Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations heard strong support for a ban from Republicans as well as Democrats.

Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, a Republican, shared that she was inspired to protect youth from conversion therapy after watching the movie Boy Erased. She said well-intentioned people were misguided to support the practice and urged other legislators to learn more about the real harms caused by conversion therapy. “People who are subjected to this kind of torture are seven times more likely to commit suicide,” she said.

Read more from WTVQ-TV


Born Perfect is the leading campaign to end conversion therapy. We are survivors, lawyers, and policy experts working together to protect LGBTQ+ people nationally and around the globe. Born Perfect is a program of National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

Ban Conversion Therapy Kentucky

Former Conversion-Therapy Advocates Call for Kentucky Ban

Ban Conversion Therapy Kentucky
Ban Conversion Therapy Kentucky

This week, Ban Conversion Therapy Kentucky gained a powerful new ally: 24 former conversion therapy advocates, who later repudiated conversion therapy, admitted that their sexual orientation and gender identity never changed, and now call for Kentucky to protect youth by banning this abusive and fraudulent practice.

Michael Bussee leads the Former Ex-gay Leaders Alliance, an alliance of former conversion therapists who now seek to end the practice.  

The Alliance explained their journey from practicing conversion therapy to recognizing its harms in a powerful op-ed this week for the Frankfort State-Journal:

“Together, we represent more than half a century of experience, so few people are more knowledgeable about the ineffectiveness and harm of conversion therapy. We know first-hand the terrible emotional and spiritual damage it can cause, especially for LGBTQ youth.

“We once believed that there was something morally wrong and psychologically “broken” about being LGBTQ. We know better now. We once believed that sexual orientation or gender identity were somehow chosen or could be changed. We know better now. We once thought it was impossible to embrace our sexual orientation or sexual identity as an intrinsic, healthy part of who we are and who we were created to be. We know better now. …

“As former ‘ex-gay’ leaders, having witnessed the incredible harm done to those who attempted to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, we join together in calling for Kentucky to ban conversion therapy. We can’t take back the harm that we caused, but we want to prevent future damage. The bills proposed by Senator Alice Forgy Kerr and Representative Lisa Willner strike the right balance of protecting LGBTQ youth and individual freedom by appropriately regulating the conduct of licensed mental health professionals and protecting public funds from misuse. It is our firm belief that it is much more productive to support, counsel, and mentor LGBTQ individuals to embrace who they are in order to live happy, well-adjusted lives.”


Born Perfect is the leading campaign to end conversion therapy. We are survivors, lawyers, and policy experts working together to protect LGBTQ+ people nationally and around the globe. Born Perfect is a program of National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

Kentucky State Rep. Kim Banta

Kentucky Republicans Co-Lead Effort to Protect LGBTQ Youth

Kentucky State Rep. Kim Banta
Kentucky State Rep. Kim Banta

In a demonstration of bipartisan unity, Rep. Kim Banta has become one of four Republicans currently cosponsoring efforts in Kentucky to ban conversion therapy.

This week, Banta penned an op-ed in The River City News in support of protecting Kentucky LGBTQ youth from abuse by mental health providers. Banta wrote:

As a Republican, the Mental Health Protection Act has my full support because it deliberately protects the rights laid out in our constitution: including freedom of religion. The bill proposed specifically prevents only state-licensed providers from engaging in conversion therapy with minors. This bill does not restrict religious leaders from counseling youth and families on this subject. It does not criminalize, or even prevent, Christian pastors and other religious leaders from discussing the morality and church teachings surrounding same-sex attraction or gender identity. Nor would it prevent parents or guardians from having similar conversations with their kids or grandkids. What this bill does is protect families from predatory therapists who would seek financial gain with false hope. It protects the safety and well-being of Kentucky’s children.

As a former principal, I know that adolescents struggle with so much in their lives. Shaming, blaming, or telling them they can change something that comes so naturally to them is proven to be emotionally and mentally harmful – especially when it comes in the guise of state-sanctioned medical advice. I have also read the personal accounts of kids who went through this legal form of child torture, these kids indicating they were physically and emotionally abused by people who take advantage of parents in a time of need. Just as it is our responsibility to help fellow Kentuckians get through the COVID-19 crisis, we have a responsibility to help struggling Kentucky kids through a much more personal and internal crisis of their own. 

Banta’s op-ed reflects values of family and liberty, of which we invite much more, throughout the Republican Party.

Banta joins Republican state Sens. Alice Forgy Kerr, Julie Raque Adams, and state Rep. Jason Nemes, alongside more than 30 Democrats, in opting to put the health and safety of LGBTQ youths and their parents before partisan politics.


Born Perfect is the leading campaign to end conversion therapy. We are survivors, lawyers, and policy experts working together to protect LGBTQ+ people nationally and around the globe. Born Perfect is a program of National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

Ban Conversion Therapy Kentucky

Kentucky Hearing to Consider Conversion-Therapy Ban

Ban Conversion Therapy Kentucky
Ban Conversion Therapy Kentucky

In a first for Kentucky, a legislative committee will consider a ban on conversion therapy at an informational hearing Aug. 25, when survivors, LGBTQ-affirming clergy, and a bipartisan array of allies make their case to the state legislature’s Interim Joint Licensing and Occupations Committee. Ban Conversion Therapy Kentucky is leading the educational campaign, with help from state and national organizations and Born Perfect.

The remarkable success of the Kentucky campaign is a testament to the growing bipartisan support for protecting youth from these harmful practices. In this polarized political era, the national campaign to stop this public health crisis is not only the single most successful legislative effort in the LGBTQ movement, but one of the few bright spots showing that politicians on different sides of the aisle can still come together to address important social problems.

The two pending bills in Kentucky would protect minors from nearly 70 known licensed therapists who practice conversion therapy in the state. The bills are sponsored by Democratic Rep. Lisa Willner and conservative Christian Republican Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, and supported by Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear. The legislation would ban conversion therapy by licensed health care providers against children and also against certain adults who are mentally or physically impaired. The ban also would prohibit public funding for conversion therapy.


Born Perfect is the leading campaign to end conversion therapy. We are survivors, lawyers, and policy experts working together to protect LGBTQ+ people nationally and around the globe. Born Perfect is a program of National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).