Group files federal lawsuit against City of La Crosse over conversion therapy ban for minors

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — The City of La Crosse has been sued over its ban on conversion therapy on minors.

The lawsuit — filed Thursday morning by the conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) on behalf of Joy Buchman, owner of Kinsman Redeemer Counseling Center, LLC — argues that the ban passed by La Crosse’s Common Council last month violates the First Amendment and seeks to bar its enforcement.

Conversion therapy is a controversial practice of changing a person’s sexuality or gender identity. Medical and psychological officials contend that such therapy is not only ineffective but also potentially seriously harmful. As the ban was first proposed, 22 people and groups, including the School District of La Crosse and the YWCA, submitted letters to support it. Since the ordinance’s passing though, it has received pushback from religious groups, calling for Mayor Mitch Reynolds to veto the measure on several occasions.

The city adopted an amended ban, barring the practice on minors by any state or federally licensed medical or mental health provider. In addition to financial penalties, violations may also lead to being referred to Wisconsin’s Department of Safety and Professional Services for investigation and action, if the state agency deems appropriate.

WILL submitted an open letter in August threatening legal action if any ban were to be adopted.

According to a 2022 survey from The Trevor Project, LGBTQ+ youth who went through the practice of conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide.

WILL’s filing on behalf of Joy Buchman can be read in its entirety here.

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