The End Conversion Therapy in State College Borough campaign finished in February 2018.
End Conversion Therapy in State College Borough
Of Our Utmost Concern
"Their tactics still haunt me. Aversion therapy, shock therapy, harassment and occasional physical abuse. Their goal was to get us to hate ourselves for being LGBTQ, and they knew what they were doing." That's how an anonymous gay teenager in a Huffington Post article described his experiences with conversion therapy. This umbrella term encompasses a gauntlet of horrifying abuse children and adults across the country experience, willingly or otherwise. LGBTQA youth whose family attempted to change their sexuality, such as through conversion therapy, are more than eight times more likely to attempt suicide as other LGBTQA youth.
On 13 June 2017, after weeks of deliberation, several Centre residents with experience in community organizing announced their initiative to advance LGBTQA rights across the county. Front & Centre was born, and of all its missions, it was apparent the banning of conversion therapy was paramount. We soon discovered, from our county commissioners, the inability of sweeping countywide reform. Instead, we decided to fight this battle in each borough, patchwork-style, by educating each neighbourhood about their rights and the rights they are being denied, empowering them so that any progress couldn't simply be rolled back.
Say it Loud, Say it Proud
With the launch of Front & Centre, local news outlets were immediately interested. This gave us a platform to start the conversations necessary to end the abusive practice. For most people, conversion therapy isn't an issue they're familiar with: it isn't debated on the news and it isn't talked about by political candidates. We began our educational campaign with petitioning local residents, raising awareness about the issue and giving people an opportunity to show support for LGBTQA civil rights. We also implemented Action buttons on our website for visitors to easily sign an online petition.
MakING Conversion Therapy Front and CenteR on the Agenda
Front & Centre made steady progress in raising awareness about conversion therapy across State College Borough, including an event during the Central PA Arts Festival and meeting with the Borough Manager, presenting him different drafts of sample ordinances. Eventually, a vote was announced for the ordinance for Monday, 5 February, 2018. At the time, our Change.org petition raised over four hundred (400) signatories. During the State College Borough Council meeting, our Treasurer and Chief of Staff spoke on the importance of ending conversion therapy to a packed audience.
Ordinance 2108 prohibits acts of conversion therapy by mental health providers on minors through a punishment of $300.00-$1,000.00 per day. It passed unanimously, with Jesse Barlow, David J. Brown, Janet P. Engeman, Catherine G. Dauler, Theresa D. Lafer, Dan Murphy, and Evan Myers voting in favor.
"State College Bans Conversion Therapy" Aimee Lewis, WJAC. Watch Here!
"State College Bans LGBTQA Conversion Therapy for Minors" Sarah Rafacz, Centre Daily Times. Read Here!
"Borough Council Discusses Conversion Therapy Ordinance, Proclaims State College the City of Thon" Madison Starr, The Underground. Read Here!
"State College Adopts Ordinance Banning Conversion Therapy" Geoff Rushton, StateCollege.com. Read Here!
"Borough Council Unanimously Votes to Ban Conversion Therapy in State College" Amanda Mooney, The Daily Collegian. Read Here!
Last Updated: 30 July 2018