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Re: Testimony in support of Youth Mental Health Protections

Dear Councilmembers,

My name is Meg Mikolajczyk, and I am the Deputy Director and Legal Counsel at Planned Parenthood North Central States. Central to our mission is the conviction that all people deserve to live in communities where sexual and reproductive rights are recognized for what they are—basic human rights. All people, regardless of who they are or who they love, deserve to lead authentic, safe, healthy, and meaningful lives.

Planned Parenthood is committed to fighting for the bodily autonomy of our patients and our friends and neighbors in the city of Lincoln and across the state. Part of this effort includes voicing opposition to and acting to dismantle systems that seek to coerce and undermine an individual’s identity, expression, and sexuality. Planned Parenthood proudly supports City Councilmember Bowers’ proposed ordinance to ban conversion therapy, as everything about the hateful, unscientific, and dangerous practice flies in the face of our core values.

Planned Parenthood is a trusted health care provider for the LGBTQ+ community because we offer compassionate, nonjudgmental care to all our patients. No matter what. At Planned Parenthood, we know that the LGBTQ+ community faces higher rates of discrimination, including external efforts to try to fundamentally change or deny who these folks are. We also know that LGBTQ+ folks living in states without protective policies, like Nebraska, are five times more likely than those in states with protective policies to have two or more mental health disorders.[1]

And, when LGBTQ+ folks experience “prejudice-related major life events”, such as attempted or actual conversion therapy, those individuals were three times more likely to have suffered a physical health issue in the year following that event.1 This fact transcends age, gender, health history, and employment; it is true across the board for all LGBTQ+ folks. Practices with such quantifiable and negative health outcomes have no place in Lincoln, or Nebraska frankly, where we pledge to offer our neighbors "the good life."

Nebraska, historically, has been a hostile place for LGBTQ+ folks to live, work, and raise their families. Lincoln has the opportunity to lead on this important topic and do better, particularly for the young people living here, who deserve to be safe and free from this coercive and emotionally violent practice. The City Council should support this ordinance to ensure that young people who live here are longer subjected to practices that are peddled as health care and science, but are actually not supported by mainstream medical professionals, including The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Social Workers.[2] Conversion therapy exploits negative feelings LGBTQ+ folks (or their parents) may already have, and the negative health outcomes for those subjected to them can include "depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation."[3]

The Youth Mental Health Protections city ordinance is an important step forward for Lincoln, and could be the push the rest of the state needs to also shield LGBTQ+ youth from this harm. Conversion therapy is not medical, it is not scientific, it is not ethical, and it is not moral. It has no home here. Thank you, Council Member Bowers, for standing up for our city and our communities. We ask all members of the City Council to please support this ordinance with your vote on February 21, 2021.  

Respectfully,

Meg Mikolajczyk
Deputy Director & Legal Counsel - NE
Planned Parenthood North Central States

 


[1] Alessi, Edward & I Martin, James & Gyamerah, Akua & Meyer, Ilan. (2013). “Prejudice-Related Events and Traumatic Stress Among Heterosexuals and Lesbians, Gay Men and Bisexuals”. Journal of aggression, maltreatment & trauma. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3860584/; LGB Mental Health Related to State-Level Anti-Discrimination Policies. (2013, July 29). Retrieved from https://lgbtpopulationcenter.org/2013/07/lgb-mental-health-related-to-state-level-anti-discrimination-policies/

[2] Satcher, David. (2001, July 9). “The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior”. United States Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20070220184835/http:/www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/sexualhealth/call.htm#III; “Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth.” Just the Facts Coalition. American Psychological Association. (2008). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/just-the-facts

[3] Drescher, Jack & Schwartz, Alan. (2016). “The Growing Regulation of Conversion Therapy.” Journal of Medical Regulation. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5040471/

Tags: testimony

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