Ordinance No. 75 means 'all are welcome'
In last month's Heights Observer, I read Alan Rapoport’s opinion ["There's a culture war in Cleveland Heights'] criticizing recently passed Ordinance No. 75-2022. In it, he takes issue with the ordinance for banning conversion therapy, a practice that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. He argues that the law is “one sided,” noting that it bans efforts to change same-gender attraction but does not prohibit school counselors from “advising minors to adopt a homosexual lifestyle.”
It’s worth noting that the ordinance is largely agnostic on a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity—it protects LGBTQ kids just as it protects straight and cisgender kids. Even if Mr. Rapoport were correct, though, and the ordinance only protected LGBTQ children, he invents a fake problem to distract from a real one.
There is no evidence that educators or health care providers are trying to turn children gay or transgender. There is evidence, however, that conversion therapy is administered to gay and trans children, and that it is both ineffective and dangerous, according to the American Psychological Association.
Arguing that the ordinance is one sided implies the existence of two sides equally worthy of consideration. Mr. Rapoport’s bogeyman of school counselors turning straight kids gay doesn’t stand up to that test.
Continuing his argument against the ordinance, Mr. Rapoport claims “sexuality is a private matter” that government should leave to families and their health care providers. My feelings on that statement aside, the point is irrelevant—the law doesn’t regulate sexuality, it regulates conversion therapy. [Rapoport's] argument is akin to saying marriage is a private matter, so government shouldn’t prevent domestic abuse. The ordinance isn’t an unjustified intrusion of government into individuals’ lives; it’s our city having the backs of our LGBTQ youth.
Mr. Rapoport concludes his opinion by claiming that the ordinance is unneeded, because “harms caused by conversion therapy can be addressed in other ways.” I’m not a lawyer, so I won’t opine on whether existing laws can prevent conversion therapy. What I will point out is that they’re not preventing it. In states like Ohio, where conversion therapy is allowed, 16,000 LGBTQ youth, 13–17, will receive conversion therapy before they turn 18. This ordinance is needed because it will chip away at that number.
Mr. Rapoport claims that this ordinance means that, “all apparently are not welcome in Cleveland Heights.” Respectfully, I believe it signifies exactly the opposite.
Cole Ware works as a policy analyst. He has lived in Cleveland Heights since 2019.