GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order this week banning government funding for conversion therapy for minors.
The therapy is a practice of attempting to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Cat Thornton, a local LGBTQ advocate and the board president of the Grand Rapids Pride Center, lauds Whitmer’s action.
“It’s amazing and I couldn’t be happier,” Thornton said.
The order states the therapy isn’t backed by medicine or science. Thornton says the practice is inhumane.
“Dog training for your children,” Thornton said. “You’re basically trying to force someone to be who they’re not. Trying to teach your child hide everything about you we don’t like. That is very damaging emotionally and mentally.”
The executive order cites a study by the Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis intervention for LGBTQ people 25 and under. The study shows LGBTQ youth who received conversion therapy were two times more likely to attempt suicide, compared to those who didn’t receive the therapy.
“A lot of parents don’t understand and just don’t know,” Thornton said. “They need the information, and when they’re not given it and all you’re given is, ‘Hey, try this conversion therapy,’ that’s where they’re going to go, even if it’s damaging to your child. So, it’s great that we’re no longer promoting that as an option.”
Whitmer also endorsed a pair of bills seeking to bar mental health professionals from engaging minors in conversion therapy.
While against conversion therapy, Thornton understands why some parents may want their children to receive it.
“They’re scared of what the child will go through as somebody who is LGBTQIA, and that’s fine, to be afraid,” Thornton said. “Know they’ll do better with your support.”
For more information on the Grand Rapids Pride Center and the services it provides, visit its website.