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Ferndale becomes 3rd Michigan city to ban ‘conversion therapy’

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published October 22, 2019

FERNDALE — Ferndale has become the third city in the state of Michigan to ban the scientifically discredited practice of so-called conversion therapy.

It was at the Oct. 14 City Council meeting that an ordinance prohibiting “conversion therapy” was unanimously approved. Ferndale follows Huntington Woods and East Lansing  as municipalities that have banned the practice that aims to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity through physical or psychological means.

The request was brought forth by new City Councilwoman Julia Music, who told the Woodward Talk that this ban was one of the first things that a resident requested she look into.

“It is something that really does destroy children’s lives, and I want to take part in helping children live healthy lives so that they can become healthy, productive adults,” she said. “By creating an ordinance like this, we have made a stand in Ferndale that we’re not going to accept a practice that causes suicide and depression and all sorts of very harmful side effects.”

The change to the city’s human rights ordinance originally was proposed as a municipal civil infraction with a penalty of $500 per offense, but the council amended it to a misdemeanor crime that is punishable by up to 93 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.

Dave Garcia, the executive director of Affirmations, said he has been fighting for LGBT rights for more than 20 years and for laws prohibiting “conversion therapy.” He said at the meeting that he has seen the effects of the practice, to the point where some people subjected to it have taken their own lives.

“I’ve seen the damage ‘conversion therapy’ does to our youth,” he said. “We see that those same youth become part of that 40% of LGBT homeless youth. … What is happening with conversion therapy is killing people.”

Music said that she also has seen the effects.

“I’ve seen suicide, and for others, I’ve seen people who have a very difficult time functioning because there’s paranoia that comes about after going through something like this,” she said.

Garcia said he doesn’t know if Michigan will ever allow a statewide law to get a legislative hearing, but for Ferndale, it can do something.

“It’s not therapy, and we should not allow it in our city,” he said.