Alaska Wins Its First Conversion Therapy Ban

Anchorage becomes the first city in the Frontier State to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy

Flag of Anchorage, Alaska
(Credit: Videohive/Envato)

After testimony from 62 individuals that spanned two days and lasted late into the evening of August 26, the Anchorage Assembly voted 9-2 to ban conversion therapy for minors. The ban protects the city of almost 300,000, and its LGBTQ youth, from an abusive and harmful practice.

One survivor, Levi Foster, an Anchorage native now living in New York, ran away from home at the age of 16 in order to escape conversion therapy. Levi shared his story with the Anchorage Assembly, urging them to protect other young people from the harm that he experienced and that shattered his family.

Born Perfect co-founder Mathew Shurka also testified before the Assembly, recalling his five years of conversion therapy and the resulting trauma to himself and his parents.

“We want to protect families from being misinformed,” Shurka told the Anchorage Daily News. Conversion therapy is based on the myth that being LGBTQ is caused by bad parenting or childhood abuse, and conversion therapists often drive a wedge between LGBTQ children and their parents. “For LGBTQ youth who are subjected to conversion therapy, the biggest issue is shame, self-harm and suicide,” Shurka said.

Anchorage is the 82nd U.S. city to pass such a law. In addition, 20 states and the District of Columbia have passed statewide laws that prevent therapists from performing conversion therapy on minors.

Born Perfect is a survivor-led program created by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) in 2014 to end conversion therapy by passing laws across the country that protect LGBTQ children and young people, fighting in courtrooms to ensure their safety, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by these dangerous practices.

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