Merriam adopts resolution condemning conversion therapy but stops short of outright ban

Pride flag

Two other northeast Johnson County cities, Roeland Park and Prairie Village, have formally banned the practice. Photo credit Quinn Dombrowski. Used under Creative Commons license.

After some discussion, Merriam city leaders agreed this week to publicly condemn conversion therapy.

At its meeting Monday night, the Merriam City Council unanimously approved a resolution that condemns the discredited and controversial practice that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

The bigger picture: Still, Merriam stopped short of adopting an ordinance that would ban conversion therapy outright, a move that two other Johnson County cities — Roeland Park and Prairie Village — have approved in the past two years.

Major medical groups, including the American Medical Association, have rejected conversion therapy. Nearly 20 states, along with dozens of cities, have passed official bans on the practice.

It’s unclear how frequently conversion therapy is occurring locally. Other local bans like Prairie Village’s only apply to licensed practitioners and not to church-based or other religious entities.

Some Merriam city councilmembers shared their concern for the LGBTQ community, while others showed reluctance for an ordinance that would ban conversion therapy.

A few residents spoke in favor of protections and even making stricter measures such as an outright ban, while others spoke against any measures to condemn or ban conversion therapy.

Key quote: “We as a body exist to make Merriam just right, and if we’re asking just right for who, it has to be just right for everyone,” said Councilmember Whitney Yadrich. “Every person who lives, works and visits in Merriam should feel safe, and sometimes that means for us doing uncomfortable things. I recognize that a resolution is not enough, but in this moment for us, for our city, I believe that it is just right. But it’s only the start of something.”

A recording of the meeting is below. Discussion begins at 1:04:48.