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Lower Makefield may ban conversion therapy, form Human Relations Commission


Lower Makefield supervisors are planning several impactful votes Wednesday, including on an ordinance that both establishes a Human Relations Commission and bans conversion therapy on sexual preference for persons under the age of 18.

They also plan to vote on whether to put a referendum on the November general election ballot for the purchase of more open space.

“Conversion therapy” is defined by the ordinance as “any practices or treatments that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity or expression…or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender.”

It does not restrict “counseling that provides assistance to a person undergoing gender long as such counseling does not seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity or expression.”

Supervisor Chairman John Lewis said he received calls over the years from people experiencing workplace discrimination. He said the purpose of the ordinance is “to provide civil rights for all people.” He added in an email that the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) states “‘conversion therapies’ (or other interventions imposed with the intent of promoting a particular sexual orientation and/or gender as a preferred outcome) lack scientific credibility and clinical utility. Additionally, there is evidence that such interventions are harmful.” (

The ordinance also adds protections for breastfeeding mothers, making it “unlawful to prohibit a breastfeeding mother from, or segregate a breastfeeding mother within, any public accommodation.” And it outlines several ways in which discrimination — based on race, sexual orientation, age, marital status, use of support animals, etc. — would be addressed.

It does make an exception for religious organizations “not supported in whole or in part by government appropriations,” to commit the unlawful practices or “to refuse to hire or employ an individual on the basis of religion.”

It also says that religious organizations exempt from federal taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code are not prohibited from “engaging in any conduct or activity that is required by, or that implements or expresses its religious beliefs or tenets of faith.”

It also prohibits “discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations and access to educational institutions.”

The 14-page ordinance also outlines how a Human Relations Commission would be set up. Five voting members would be appointed by the supervisors, chosen from residents or people working full-time within the township. Up to three nonvoting members and a nonvoting student representative between ages 15 and 18 would also be selected.

“No voting member…shall hold any office in any political party,” the proposed ordinance states.

Members chosen would attend training and educational seminars on the function of the local and state human relations commissions.

The supervisors also plan to vote on two ordinances to deal with storm water management in both the Delaware and Neshaminy watersheds.

The supervisors’ meeting is planned for 7:30 p.m. in the Lower Makefield Municipal Building, 1100 Edgewood Road. Meetings are broadcast on Verizon Channel 20 and Comcast Channel 22.

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