Community, Latest News, Morgantown Council

Conversion therapy ban gets first nod, masks mandated for city meetings

MORGANTOWN — Tuesday’s public input on the banning of conversion therapy was fairly lengthy as a dozen or so speakers addressed the issues — all but one encouraging its removal from the city.

Morgantown City Council, on the other hand, had far less to say, passing on first reading — and without further discussion — an Amendment to Article 153 of city code that would ban any medical or mental health professional from engaging in conversion therapy with a minor.

Conversion therapy is the practice of attempting to change someone’s sexual orientation from lesbian, gay or bisexual to straight, or their identity from transgender or nonbinary to cisgender.

The topic has been a point of discussion at the last two committee of the whole meetings and will be up for adoption on Oct. 19.

Tuesday’s speakers touched on a number of familiar talking points, including the rejection of the practice by the larger medical and mental health communities and the impacts on those patients subjected to it.

Public remarks also included the first in opposition to the city ban, offered by Richard Kerr, who said the medical community has made political correctness paramount and went on to question the wisdom of a city banning therapies.

Under the authority granted in Article 153, the Morgantown Human Rights Commission could investigate claims of conversion therapy and issue a cease and desist order, or levy other penalties, including fines.

In other news from Tuesday’s meeting, council instituted a mask mandate to attend city meeting for all attendees over the age of two.

The mandate will not recognize medical conditions as a valid reason for attending without a mask, but instead, according to Attorney Ryan Simonton, “the city, and its boards and commissions, will make reasonable accommodations to allow meeting attendance for anyone with a condition or disability that precludes them from wearing an adequate face covering.”

Those accommodations would be arranged through the city clerk’s office at 304-284-7439.

Council opted to take no action on a pair of items pertaining to projects that would realign the Campus Drive intersection with Beechurst Avenue, opting to wait for additional project details and timelines from the West Virginia Department of Highways.

The Dominion Post requested information on the projects from the DOH on Monday, but has received no response.

Lastly, council approved the expenditure of $183,495 to replace an elevator in the city’s Public Safety Building. The current Public Safety Building elevator is inoperable at this time.

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