Community members rally in Meadville, urging leaders to take legal action against conversion therapy.
Randy Weed spends most of his life here in Crawford County, and his small town hasn’t always felt like home. “I could not be who I was. It took me until I was 32 years old to come out as gay.”
But, he says he didn’t have it as bad as some people in the LGBT community; that’s why he’s teaming up with local activists, urging lawmakers to ban conversion therapy in Pennsylvania. The service is meant to change someone’s sexual orientation, but research shows it’s a hoax.
David Moore of PA Equality Project tells us, “It’s impossible to change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity any more than it is to change the color of one’s skin.”
A few other cities in Pennsylvania already ban conversion therapy, but activists say that legislation is harder to pass in this region. Weed says, “It’s all over… everything’s all done and we’re all equal but that’s not the case especially in the rural areas”.
Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Allentown have local ordinances in place to stop this practice, and activists want Erie and Crawford County to adopt similar policies. They say it’s not only ineffective… it’s dangerous.
Activist Shirley Heim says, “especially young people that are made to be outsiders, especially in their families and their church communities, or the community at large really tend toward depression and suicide”.
Weed adds that it’s time local lawmakers make moves to protect some of society’s most targeted individuals. “This is still happening today. This is real. This is not a historical fact. This is something that still goes on in communities.”