After hearing emotional testimony from a doctor, a parent and those who have gone through conversion therapy, the Columbia City Council unanimously approved a ban on the practice Monday night.
Ten people spoke in support of a city ordinance amending Chapter 16 of the city code to prohibit anyone from providing conversion or reparative therapy to a minor.
Conversion therapy includes a range of methods that attempt to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Among those who spoke was Amanda Loucks. She went through conversion therapy in California for four years and when she came to Columbia in 2009, she continued her conversion therapy for five years.
But Loucks realized that her situation didn’t change at all.
“I begged God for death daily,” Loucks said. “I prayed daily for a car accident. ... My life could have been far less painful, if only I could have known the failure rate of conversion therapy.”
Loucks is now a graduate student in Michigan and came back to Columbia specifically to see the conversion therapy ban passed.
Aaron Sapp, a physician at the MU student health center, said conversion therapy does not help patients at all.
“Practitioners are not only engaging in an ethical violation for their professional organizations, but they’re engaging in false and deceptive trade practices,” Sapp said
Carol Sattler, whose child went through conversion therapy through the guidance of a doctor in Kansas City, said she does not want anyone to experience what her child suffered.
“Please protect young people from this horrible form of child abuse and ban conversion therapy in Columbia,” Sattler said.
In other action, council members unanimously approved a two-lot final plat that allows My House Nightclub & Sports Bar to add a building in the space behind the club, known as The Backyard.
The council also unanimously approved a contract between the city and Vidwest, a Columbia-based nonprofit, to operate a public media center that will replace Columbia Access Television, which closed Sept. 9.
Vidwest will partner with the Ragtag Film Society to operate the center. The agreement also gives Vidwest $34,981.12, which was allocated for public access television in the fiscal 2020 budget, as well as leftover equipment from CAT.
The council also heard a report from the Public Health and Human Services department focused on a potential ban on pit bulls, though staff recommended that the city not pursue a breed-specific ban.
At the beginning of the meeting, Missouri football coach Barry Odom presented the Mayor’s Cup to Mayor Brian Treece. The football team claimed this year’s cup with its victory over South Carolina on Sept. 21.
“It’s my goal to make sure that we keep this in our possession — in the right Columbia — for a number of years,” Odom said.
Missourian reporter Libby Stanford contributed to this story.