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Denver Moves Toward Banning Conversion Therapy For Minors

By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4) – The City of Denver is one step closer to banning conversion therapy for minors. Denver's Safety, Housing, Education & Homelessness Committee agreed on the proposed ban Wednesday morning. Several states have voted to ban the controversial practice, but in Colorado, that effort has failed four times.

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(credit: CBS)

For Mayor Michael Hancock, it's a very personal issue.

"When my brother came out to our family all those years ago, we knew that our love and support was what he needed," Mayor Hancock said in a statement released Monday. "All our LGBTQ+ youth here in Denver deserve the same, and they should be proud of who they are. We celebrate who they are, and they should feel welcome and that our city is open to them. Their safety, well-being and happiness are our highest priority with this proposal."

Hancock says banning conversion therapy will protect minors from the discredited and dangerous practice used to change sexual orientation.

According to the American Psychological Association, conversion therapy can lead to depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior.

"When a young person thinks that they may be gay or lesbian or that their gender doesn't match expectations, it can be scary. Those youth need our love and our support. This practice puts shame and rejection upon them and it puts them at risk," said Denver Councilwoman Robin Kniech.

Kniech says she's received positive feedback from the community about the ban. She says some people were unaware that is was still legal.

However, others believe it's not up to the city to decide what's best for other people's children.

"I feel that people should have a choice. I don't think conversation therapy should be against the law. That's taking away the parents rights," said Denver resident Mary Anna Thompson.

Denver psychologist Dr. Sarah Burgamy agrees that parents have a right to seek services for the well-being and health of their child, but says that doesn't include things that are not therapeutically sound.

"When you come to somebody like myself, a healthcare provider, you rely on our expertise and trust what we tell you. That's why were here," said Burgamy.

If the proposal passes, Denver will become the first city in Colorado to ban conversion therapy.

Tori Mason is an award-winning reporter for CBS4 This Morning. Follow her on Twitter @ToriMasonTV.

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