INDIANAPOLIS — Monday night, Indianapolis City-County Councillors unanimously supported a statewide ban on conversion therapy.
The psuedoscience therapy is focused on LGBTQ+ people, trying to change their sexual orientation, gender identity, or both. It is already banned in 20 states. Last month, Sen. JD Ford, D-Indianapolis, and Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, introduced similar bills in both chambers to ban the practice in Indiana for Hoosiers under the age of 18. Mathew Shurka, co-founder of Born Perfect, tells WRTV conversion therapy is dangerous and should be outlawed because of the lasting impact it has on those who survive it.
"That's where depression and suicide really come in. Why the suicide rate is high for so many youth that go through these programs is because they blame themselves. They feel like they didn't try hard enough. They weren't able to fix the problem," Shurka said. Shurka knows about this first-hand because from 16 to 21, he went through conversion therapy with so-called therapists telling him he was gay because of things in his life.
"They said it was because I was too close to my mother and my sister, being the youngest of three, and not spending enough time with my dad. This is something we hear from survivors all across Indiana and the United States,"Shurka said. "I wasn't allowed to speak to my mom and sister for three years. I was instructed to do that as a way to understand my role of male and female."
While not from Indiana, Shurka's experience is similar to many Hoosiers who've gone through conversion therapy. It's why he and his organizations are throwing their support behind the pair of bills put forth last month.
"We want to make sure we're not putting kids in harm's way," Shurka said.
Indianapolis City County Councillor Keith Potts led the charge to get his colleagues to support the conversion therapy ban across Indiana.
"We'll often say it takes a village to raise a child and it's so important that village is supportive of the child regardless of who they are," Potts said. "It's [the resolution] simply a way for our council to use its voice to support legislation that protects Hoosier children"
The Marion County resolution passed unanimously.
"While our resolution at the council tonight is not a law, it's a declaration of our values. It's important we talk more and more clearly about our values and how we think they should play out," Potts said.
For the conversion therapy ban to become law, the bills must first be heard by committees in the House and Senate. WRTV will keep track and let you know what happens. Similar legislation was filed back in 2019, but it did not get a hearing.