In the 2020 legislative session, Ban Conversion Therapy Kentucky saw 37 state legislators in both chambers and parties cosponsor the Mental Health Protection Act to ban conversion therapy. While House Bill 199/Senate Bill 85 was sidelined by COVID-19, the Kentucky House of Representatives convened an interim committee session last Tuesday to hear testimony on conversation therapy in preparation revisiting the proposed legislation in 2021.
Ban Conversion Therapy is also preparing for KYGA21, riding the momentum of the act’s bi-partisan support, and working to expand that coalition in January, from directly lobbying legislators to working on the ground acoss the state.
Starting Monday, August 31, BCTK is accepting applications for their Ambassadors program. “Thanks to a grant from JustFundKy, this year our program will expand outside of Louisville and Lexington to include eastern, western, and northern Kentucky,” executive director Tanner Mobley said in an email. “We’re specifically committed to drastically increasing education efforts in rural areas.”
BCTK Ambassadors raise awareness of conversion therapy in their local communities, while also directly advocating for legislation like the Mental Health Protection Act.
“This year, the program will be remote and strictly follow COVID-19 guidelines,” Mobley said. The organization is shifting tactics to social media and digital organizing, which isn’t that all too different from business as usual. “Being a statewide organization, we already were pretty remote to be more accessible for folks.”
BCTK is rethinking their annual lobby day, historically a large in-person event at the state capitol, and ambassador training can be completely virtual.
Ambassadors commit to volunteering one to two hours a week consistently through the end of the legislative session in mid-May.
With the November 3rd election around the corner, all 100 seats of the Kentucky House of Representatives are up for election, along with 19 seats out of the state senate’s 38. That means the Mental Health Protection Act or any similar legislation will be presented to a new General Assembly.
Ban Conversion Therapy Kentucky surveyed candidates for state office, and more than 50% of all candidates running for Kentucky State government responded that they’re supportive of legislation to protect youth from conversion therapy, a pool including “a great mixture of Republican, Independent, and Democratic candidates,” said executive director Tanner Mobley.