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Solebury to oppose “conversion therapy” with formal resolution

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An anti-discrimination measure calling for state and federal legislation banning conversion therapy for minors, among other practices, will be considered at the July 16 meeting of the Solebury Board of Supervisors at the suggestion of Supervisor Robert McEwan.

McEwan said he was approached by a small local group of residents and some medical professionals in May in support of comprehensive nondiscrimination legislation.

This prompted the board to ask its attorney to draw up a resolution in support of such legislation pending in the state General Assembly which would prohibit “sexual orientation change efforts” for those under the age of 18, including efforts to change such a person’s gender identity, and would expressly include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression under state anti-discrimination laws.

Conversion therapy is the practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual using psychological or spiritual interventions, such as counseling, visualization, social skills training, spiritual interventions such as prayer and group support, and pressure.

The therapy is banned in in 15 states, including New York, New Jersey, California, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, Rhode Island New Mexico and Connecticut.

The township’s proposed resolution endorses legislation that:

- expressly includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and general expression as protected classes from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations;

- prohibits conversion therapy to minors;

- maintain federal, state and local authority to prohibit and remedy invidious discrimination.

New legislation is necessary, according to the township resolution, because federal and state anti-discrimination statutes do not expressly prohibit discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

The proposal argues that “the freedom to be who a person is and the ability to access the means to build a life of one’s own choosing, including an equal opportunity at success, are fundamental values of our society.”

And that “such equal opportunity and freedom is meaningless when a good job, housing, or participation in other aspects of society can be denied to a person or taken away simply because of who that person is, who they love, and/or prejudice as to how a person looks, acts, or preconceptions about how a person should look or act.”

If it passes, the resolution will be forwarded to state Sen. Steve Santarsiero, state Rep. Wendi Thomas, Gov. Tom Wolfe, U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick and U.S. Senators Bob Casey and Patric Toomey.

McEwan said the board is encouraging people to attend the July supervisors meeting to express their thoughts about the resolution.


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